FGD #20: Home Ice Advantage – The Flames Welcome The Devils

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(Candice Ward / USA Today Sports)

The Calgary Flames are back home after a disappointing four-game sojourn throughout the United States that saw them capture just two (of a possible eight) points. Now, the Flames hope to get back into the win column and try to create some momentum for themselves when they face the New Jersey Devils.

The Devils have drawn comparisons to Calgary from last season; they’re not overly amazing at anything, but they’ve been good enough when it counts to bank a good amount of points in the standings. Now, the Flames are looking up at the Devils and probably going “Man, why can’t we do that?” (It’s their defensive zone play, by the way.)

The puck drops just after 7pm MT on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan!

THE FLAMES

Here are the lines from Sunday’s game in Chicago, via Daily Faceoff:

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Aside from Derek Grant heading to the AHL and Josh Jooris stepping in for him, there are no anticipated line-up changes for the Flames tonight. That means Karri Ramo starts for the 12th time this season. He’s 4-7-0 with a 3.34 goals against average and a .898 save percentage. Ramo’s been pretty good since coming back from Stockton, but “pretty good” hasn’t been good enough lately.

What can we say about the local hockey club? I wouldn’t call them a bad team, but they’re definitely sloppy, and prone to uneven play an inopportune times. Case in point: Sunday in Chicago. They played well enough to get a lead in a tough building, then completely unraveled in their own end over two minutes of play – with some sloppy defensive, some iffy goaltending and some brain-farts all around. The result? Chicago was gifted a lead they would never relinquish, and the Flames were playing from behind yet again.

And while the Flames haven’t been terrible, they also haven’t been amazing, so I’m a bit puzzled at why Bob Hartley keeps rolling with the same lines – aside from swapping in Jooris for Grant – rather than shuffling the deck. If I’m the opposition, all i have to do is watch some videos of the team’s tendencies and I’m set, especially given there’s no real variation in how the team approaches each game or how the line-up is being composed.

Insanity, they say, is repeating the same actions and expecting a different result.

THE DEVILS

Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:

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Cory Schneider gets the start for the Devils. He’s 9-4-1 with a sparkling 1.98 goals against average and a .928 save percentage. He’s pretty damn good, and one of the big reasons for the resurgence for New Jersey (thus far) this season.

There’s a trio of familiar names for New Jersey tonight: ex-Flames Mike Cammalleri, Lee Stempniak and David Schlemko. All three left the organization over the past couple of years, with Cammalleri landing in New Jersey as a free agent last summer and Stempniak and Schlemko joining him this year. Cammalleri leads the Devils in scoring with 17 points in as many games, while Stempniak is just a smidge behind him with 14 points.

WHEN LAST WE MET

Calgary took both meetings with New Jersey last season. In November they won a wild one in Calgary, 5-4 in a shootout. The return match in New Jersey in February wasn’t nearly as wild, with the Flames taking a 3-1 decision.

The Flames and Devils have had 97 previous regular season meetings. Through those games, the Flames have a record of 62-22-11-2.

THE NUMBERS

CALGARY NEW JERSEY
Wins 6 10
Power Play 16.0% 22.0%
Penalty Kill 75.5% 82.1%
Score-Adjusted Corsi 46.2% 48.1%
Faceoffs 48.1% 49.5%

HOME ICE HERO

There’s a person in every rink in Canada that makes a big difference and
keeps things running smoothly. Who does that in your local rink?
Nominate your Home Ice Hero and they could win a prize worth $5,000. Nominate your hero!

SUM IT UP

I feel like I’m repeating myself when I write these things, but man, the Flames absolutely need wins and points any way they can get them. They’re six points out of a playoff spot (and Arizona, who they’re chasing, has a game-in-hand). We can wax poetic about regression, or their uneven play, or goaltending…but when it comes down to it, they need to get their act together and find ways to win.

Because if they fall a bit further behind the pack, it may already be time to think about tee times for mid-April.