The New Jersey Devils (21-21-9) will look to extinguish (*collective groans*) the Calgary Flames (25-24-3) and go for the season series sweep in their second and final meeting of the season. Cory Schneider will be in net tonight for New Jersey and Brian Elliot is expected to be in net for Calgary. Captain Andy Greene will also be activated off of injured reserve today and will return to the lineup tonight after missing his last 12 games.
Their first meeting was last month in Calgary on the Devils’ Western Conference road trip and New Jersey won 2-1, outshooting the Flames 36-32. Kyle Palmieri and Taylor Hall scored goals and Hall’s was a power play goal. This was also the beginning of New Jersey’s five-game win streak on the road. Keith Kinkaid was in net for the Devils last time and made 31 saves on 32 shots faced with a .969 save percentage. Chad Johnson was in net for Calgary and made 34 saves on 36 shots, .944 save percentage.
New Jersey last played Tuesday night against Detroit at the Joe Louis Arena, a 4-3 win. Schneider made some huge saves to keep the team in the game. Stefan Noesen, Adam Henrique, and Palmieri (2) all scored goals, and Henrique and Palmieri both had shorthanded goals. Calgary defeated Minnesota, 5-1, in a thrashing. Elliot made 28 saves on 29 shots faced (.966 save %). Alex Chiasson, Deryk Engelland, Michael Ferland, and Sean Monahan (2) all scored goals. Monahan now leads the Flames in goals with 18.
The main lineup notes include Schneider in net and Greene back in the lineup. Greene did work on a power play unit and will probably see power play time tonight. Jon Merrill is out with an upper body injury and will be out until at least after New Jersey’s bye week; he was placed on injured reserve yesterday, retroactive to January 31st. Beau Bennett and John Moore skated on their own yesterday but (good news!) they both skated with the team this morning (optional skate). Luke Gazdic was placed on waivers yesterday and will be sent down to Albany (AHL) if he clears (did also skate this morning). But arguably the biggest news today is that Joe Blandisi was recalled from Albany (AHL).
Things to watch for? That Zacha-Josefson-Noesen third line. All of them have looked good on the ice; they’re moving the puck well and are also strong defensively. They seem to have found chemistry quickly so hopefully that keeps going. Noesen and Henrique both have two goals in their last two games. Palmieri has three goals in his last four games. Henrique and Palmieri lead the team in goals with 13 each and are starting to look like the 30-goal scorers they were last season.
This is New Jersey’s first game in a back-to-back (will play Columbus tomorrow night) and their first of two back-to-backs this month. This is also New Jersey’s first of nine home games this month and will look to break their losing streak at the Prudential Center. The Devils have lost six straight games at home (which is a stark contrast from starting the season 8-0-2 at The Rock). The team has talked constantly about making The Rock a tough place to play and lately, it hasn’t been. The fans have always been great and will support the team no matter what. The only game I’ve been to this season was a 4-2 loss to Toronto last month but the fans were still there and chanted and stayed until the very end. They can reward their fans by playing consistently and coming out with a win.
It should be another good game tonight; watch the Devils take on the Flames when the puck drops at 7:30PM.