Today is one of those days I do not envy the Flames: they're in New Jersey, they're minus a player (Matt Stajan) and they're far from home on a losing streak. However, if there's ever a game the Flames could win- this is it.
To say the New Jersey Devils have underperformed this year is a hell of an understatement. In fact, they're almost an extreme version of the Flames. Expected to do pretty well, partly because they've been a good team the past few years and partly because they acquired the hottest free agent in Ilya Kovalchuk, they've bottomed out to the tune of second worst in the league (14 points in 21 games) and don't do anything particularly well.
The Devils are tied for the worst offense in the league with 41 goals all season. Steven Stamkos himself has nearly half that. Their defense isn't much better- ranking 21st in the league in goals allowed with 64. That being said, the Devils aren't nearly as bad as they seem. They're in the top third for SOG, hindered by a horribly low shooting percentage at 6.3, and the salary cap woes, Zach Parise injury, and general bad luck indicates this is a much better team than they look at first glance.
The Flames themselves aren't exactly running alongside Lady Luck either, though they hardly seem to help themselves a lot. Between the numerous injuries that seem to come back everytime we get healthy, the bad officiating that apparently follows us across international and state borders, and the fact that the Sutters are still running the team, don't be surprised if half the team slips on banana peels or walks under Acme brand anvils before the game.
Still, barring those events, the Flames haven't been too terrible lately, and we could see a quality game tonight.
I'll post the lines and pairing if I get them before I hit the road for some Thanksgiving travel, otherwise I'm sure some helpful soul will paste them in the comments.
As always- go Flames go.