by Marc Ciampa
November 5th, 2002
|Large Shoes To Fill: The Flames face the second of back to back games tonight without a true second goaltender.
Tonight the above .500 Calgary Flames (4-3-3-2; 4th Northwest Division) try to stay on a roll, having registered points in eight of their last nine games. It will be a difficult task, however, as the Flames—a team who in past seasons has not had a whole lot of success playing the second game of back-to-back nights—go up against one of the league’s best in the New Jersey Devils (8-1-0-0; 1st Atlantic Division). The Devils are off to their best start since 1993-94 and are well rested, with their last game being Saturday night.
The Flames haven’t beaten the Devils, who boast the league’s best defence, since December 4, 1999 although they have owned the Kansas City/Colorado/New Jersey franchise historically. They have an all-time record of 53-20-11 against the Scouts/Rockies/Devils.
KEYS TO SUCCESS:
- Simplicity. The Flames need to play boring, chip-it-off-the-boards type of hockey tonight if they have any hope. They will be a road weary bunch with a goaltender not used to playing on back-to-back nights behind them.
- Patience. New Jersey has the league’s best defence, with a 1.55 GAA. Further, they have only allowed one goal in four of its last five contests. There will be limited opportunities to score tonight, but the Flames can’t let that get to them. If they over-press for a goal it will likely end up in the back of their net.
- Special Teams. Calgary has played well on special teams the last couple of games with three power play goals in two games. On the penalty killing side of things, they have seen marginal improvement but must continue to play disciplined hockey to limit their opponents’ power plays.
BY THE NUMBERS:
Jordan Leopold has three points in his last two games as he begins to adapt to the NHL level of play. Leopold is looking to become one of only a handful blueliners who has made the jump directly from college to the NHL in the past decade. Another is Tom Poti, who Leopold will face on Thursday with the Rangers. … The Devils complete their four-game homestand tonight, with a 2-1-0 record coming in. The Flames had better score early in this one. New Jersey is 4-0-0 when leading after one period this season, and 6-0-0 when leading after two. … Tonight is the second of 12 back-to-back games for the Flames this season, though it could be worse. New Jersey plays on back-to-back nights 19 times this year. Last season the Flames played in back-to-back situations 14 times. In the first game they were 6-4-3-1 and in the second they were a woeful 3-10-1-0. This year the Flames are 0-1-0-0 (not including last night’s game on Long Island) in the first game, and 0-0-0-1 in the second. … One bright spot statistically for Calgary: the Devils have the worst power play in the league, at 6.4%, very surprising considering they have three of the league’s best offensive defencemen in their lineup in Scott Niedermayer, Brian Rafalski and Oleg Tverdosky.
Calgary: Roman Turek (broken finger) is out. Craig Conroy (badly bruised ankle) is questionable.
New Jersey: Jay Pandolfo (groin) is out. Stephen Guolla (hamstring) is probable.
WHO TO WATCH:
Calgary: Jamie McLennan will likely be in between the pipes for the second time in two nights and will have to have a sharp team in front of him. If the Devils start to rack up the shots, it could be a long night for McLennan and the Flames. … Steve Begin, Blake Sloan or both may be inserted into the lineup tonight to provide some fresh bodies. Marc Savard may get the call as well if Conroy can’t go.
New Jersey: The whole team has played outstanding hockey since the start of the season, and that’s a real credit to new head coach Pat Burns. Defence has been the key to their success as team leading scorer John Madden (4 goals, 4 assists, 8 points) has less points than four Flames players, but the Devils have allowed 1.53 less goals per game than Calgary (1.56 vs. 3.09)
"I've had 40 wins, 10 shutouts, goals-against under 2.00. It's hard to do things like that all the time. Dominik Hasek was winning the Vezina, and you just don't know what the competition is going to be like. I'm saying it's hard. Two goals against was horrible, three was like I was getting shelled. Stat-wise, I had unbelievable years. If I win it, it will be with stats that aren't as good.– Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur on the Vezina Trophy he’s never won despite a stellar career.
"I'm so happy to get my first win here. It kind of goes full circle. I got my first NHL win in this building against Calgary."—Former Islander and current Flames netminder Jamie McLennan, who registered his first win as a Flame last night.
New Jersey visits the Flames on March 5th.