FGD: A Trip to the Garden State

After a tight 2-1 shootout loss in Edmonton on Saturday, the Calgary Flames really get to the meat of their five-game road trip as they hit Newark for a meeting with the New Jersey Devils.

Nobody really expected much from the Devils this season, but like the Flames last season, they’re a scrappy bunch of players that are really gelling well together and playing some good hockey. It helps that they have a really good goalie that keeps them in most games in Cory Schneider.

The puck drops tonight at 7pm MT on Sportsnet Flames and Sportsnet 960 The Fan!

THE FLAMES

Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:

Johnny GaudreauSean MonahanMicheal Ferland
Sam BennettMikael BacklundMichael Frolik
Mason RaymondMarkus GranlundJiri Hudler
Joe ColborneMatt StajanDavid Jones

Mark GiordanoT.J. Brodie
Kris RussellDougie Hamilton
Deryk EngellandLadislav Smid

After a pair of pretty strong performances, Jonas Hiller gets the start for a third consecutive game. He’s 5-4-1 with a 3.16 goals against average and a .882 save percentage. Hiller wasn’t challenged a ton against Florida or Edmonton, but he was up to the task when he was called upon. Ladislav Smid (playing his 100th game as a Flame), Jiri Hudler and Joe Colborne are back in, while Josh Jooris, Deryk Engelland and Brandon Bollig are on the sidelines. Lance Bouma skated with the team this morning and will play on the trip, according to Bob Hartley (via our media friends traveling with the club).

The Flames and New Jersey are about as close to each other as they can be, but the big difference is the gap between their special teams play. The Devils are better at the power-play and on the penalty kill, but the Flames are slightly better at five-on-five by the usual possession metrics. If the Flames can win the special teams battle on the road and keep things even (or better) at even-strength, they can likely grind out a win. And if Johnny Gaudreau or Sam Bennett can continue their recent offensive displays, that’ll help the Flames quite a bit as well.

The last time the Flames played in Newark, Mark Giordano suffered a season ending injury in the late stages of the game. Keep your fingers crossed that this game has a better outcome.

THE DEVILS

Projected lines courtesy of Daily Faceoff:

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Cory Schneider starts for New Jersey. He’s 19-14-5 with a 2.03 goals against average and a .929 save percentage. Schneider’s been the glue holding the Devils together – along with Mike Cammalleri – this season, and his numbers are stellar considering the quality of his team and the guys they’re up against every night. The Devils have gotten slammed by injuries this season, with Ryane Clowe, Patrick Elias and Jiri Tlusty currently on the shelf.

But the good news is that it looks like Cammalleri will be back in the action for the Devils for the first time since December 30. He’s got 35 points in 38 games so far this season, and he’s probably playing his best hockey in years – likely dating back to when he was with the Flames. The Devils are an interesting mix of veterans and youngsters, but it’s worked this season. They’re within striking distance of the playoffs, and they probably see Cammalleri’s return as a chance to get back into the mix.

They’ll be energized and dangerous tonight, so the Flames have their work cut out for them.

THE NUMBERS

CALGARY NEW JERSEY
Wins 20 22
Power Play 13.9% 17.7%
Penalty Kill 74.3% 82.9%
Score-Adjusted Corsi 47.1% 46.3%
Faceoffs 48.1% 46.9%

WHEN LAST WE MET

Calgary hosted New Jersey at the Saddledome back in November, beating them 3-2.

This is the 99th meeting between the Flames and the Devils in the history of their franchises (including Atlanta, Colorado and Kansas City): the Flames have a commanding 63-22-11-2 all-time record in the series.

SUM IT UP

The Flames haven’t been a great road team this season, posting a 6-11-3 record away from the ‘Dome. This road trip is a big, big chance to get back into the playoff race.

Or to fall completely out of it.

A win tonight would get them off to a nice start.