Calgary Flames vs NJ Devils, 7 PM MT, Scotiabank Saddledome, Calgary AB
TV: SNW - Radio: Sportsnet 960
Calgary Flames 9-7-2 (20 pts) - NJ Devils 4-5-4 (10 pts)
And that’s after a Calgary Flames win. Bill Peters, much like anyone who has watched a Flames game lately knows this team can’t put 60 minutes together if their life depended on it. They’re struggling to score goals (2.7 goals per game), the power play has only scored twice in their last 16 tries, yet the Flames have someone managed to overcome some pretty big deficits and win. The latest being a 4-3 OT win over the Arizona Coyotes Tuesday night. The Flames had zero business getting two points out of that contest, but they put together an outstanding final five minutes to get it to overtime.
Like all things Flames lately it’s been David Rittich doing the heavy lifting. The Flames keeper has seen a league leading 461 shots this season, the next closest goaltender is Marc-Andre Fleury who’s seen 419 and they’ve played the same amount of games. Rittich is tops in the league in stops as well, keeping the puck from entering the net 422 times, by far the most in the NHL. Now, it’s not just him. Elias Lindholm and Matthew Tkachuk have been carrying the Flames load on offence. Tkachuk has eight points in his last four games and Lindholm has seven points in his last five. The rest of the Flames offence is a hot mess and that needs to turn itself around. That job begins with Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Mikael Backlund getting their heads on straight and playing hockey. The three have combined for nine goals.....not even CLOSE to being enough.
With that said, it could be worse, Calgary could be the NJ Devils. Two of NJ’s four wins have come in their last two games, which shows you what a rough start it’s been for the Devils. They started off losing their first six games and seven of their first nine, not exactly a recipe for success. NJ is 27th in the league in GF with 37 and they’ve given up 48. Face it, a -11 goal differential isn’t going to move things in the right direction. They are also 25th in the league in PK% and 23rd in PP%, so that’s not helping either. Want more bad news? This is game three of a five game road trip for NJ that will see them make five stops over eight days. Good luck with that.
Then there’s the circus sideshow involving Taylor Hall’s contract. Hall is a UFA at the end of this season and both sides appear to be having meetings, but that kind of stuff, combined with a tough start to the season isn’t going to make things easier. Hall has played in all 13 games so far this season and leads the Devils in points (13) and assists (11). But ask yourself: you’re a young star in the league and can go anywhere next season. Do you want to test the free agent waters or stay with a team that lost seven of it’s first nine games?
Anyway, enough with their drama issues. The Flames have owned the Devils over the years, compiling a 68-26-11 record overall and they’ve won eight of their last 10 against NJ at the Dome.
Starting Goalies (E=Expected,C=Confirmed)
Flames: Rittich (E)- 8-4-2, 2.79 GAA, .915 Save%
Devils: Blackwood (E)- 4-2-3, 2.91 GAA, .891 Save%
Flames: Goals: Lindholm (10) Points: Tkachuk (18) PIM: Lucic (30) Save%: Rittich (.915)
Devils: Goals: Palmieri (6) Points: Hall (13) PIM: Palmieri (23) Save%: Blackwood (.891)
What’s Happening With The Opposition?
NJ Devils Coverage: All About The Jersey
Last Time Out
Calgary Flames 4 - Arizona Coyotes 3 (OT)
NJ Devils 2 - Winnipeg Jets 1 (SO)
Players To Watch
Flames: Matthew Tkachuk (F): 8 points in last 4 games
Devils: Sami Vatanen (D): 5 points in last 5 games