Tonight, the New Jersey Devils (16-18-9) face the Calgary Flames (23-19-2) in the second of their four-game Western Canada road trip in their first of two meetings this season and the second of a back-to-back. Calgary is 4-2-0 in their last six games and is 7-1-1 in their last nine games against New Jersey, dating back to March 5, 2010.
Calgary beat San Jose Wednesday night, 3-2, with goals from Michael Frolik, Matthew Tkachuk, and Dougie Hamilton. New Jersey fell to Edmonton last night, in a 3-2 overtime loss; Travis Zajac and Steven Santini scored.
Mikael Backlund leads Calgary in goals (12) and points (29). New Jersey native Johnny Gaudreau also has 10 goals and 17 assists in 34 games. P.A. Parenteau still leads the Devils in goals with 12. Zajac and Taylor Hall are tied for the team lead in points with 26.
With the way Cory Schneider has been playing, I would expect to see him in net tonight. It is the second half of a back-to-back, however, so I wouldn’t be completely surprised to see Keith Kinkaid get a start. I would expect more lineup changes just because we haven’t seen consistent lines at all this season.
New Jersey was 0/3 on the power play last night and is still 29th in the league with a 13% success rate. Their power play is a problem that desperately needs to be fixed. Calgary’s power play is 11th in the league, with a 20.7% success rate. The Devils penalty kill is much better, however, boasting a 82.7% kill rate (12th in the league); Calgary has a 81.6% kill rate (17th). One of the roots of the power play problem is New Jersey’s complete inability to take shots on goal. They had only 18 shots on goal last night and are still dead last in the league in average shots/game at 27.2. Calgary is slightly better with 28.9 shots/game. If Schneider continues to play well and makes huge saves when he needs to, New Jersey really needs to find ways to score goals and help him out, and scoring goals starts with taking shots.
Calgary is three points behind Edmonton, who currently sit in third place in the Pacific Division. New Jersey is in for another battle but maybe two points aren’t too far out of reach this time. It’ll be another late night for us East Coasters; puck drops at 9PM.