Take yourselves back to the afternoon of June 23, 2009 when Brent Sutter was named the head coach of the Calgary Flames. If I remember right, my emotions were full of hatred and anger because I felt lied to. It wasn't that I thought Brent Sutter was the greatest coach in the Devils history, no, it was because he promised to do something for this organization and hadn't delivered and now lied his way out of town. Hindsight is a wonderful thing because Jaques Lemaire has turned out to be everything Sutter wasn't. I was recently on a Flames discussion board and I saw a post that said, "Flames are pissing me off. Sutter needs to get a clue" and I relized how much good he did for us by leaving. That said, tonight's matchup is one that got circled on the calendar right away when the schedule was announced, although it would have been nicer to have the game in NJ where fans could really let Sutter know what they think of him, regardless of how well the Devils have done this season.
The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (38-21-3) at the Calgary Flames (30-24-9). This is the one and only meeting this season. (Lets hope that if the Devils get to the Cup Finals, Sutter isn't the other team there!)
The Last Devils Game: Offensively, I don't think you could have asked for more. Goals by Zajac and Kovalchuk made Devils fans smile but defensively it was a crazy game. After being up 4-0 in the third, the Devils surrendered 3 quick goals and allowed the Sharks to make a game of it but in the end were able to hold them off. We aren't sure if the Devils short-comings on defense that night was the reason the Devils traded for Martin Skoula at the deadline.
The Last Flames Game: The Flames were shutout 4-0 by the Minnesota Wild. Calgary got 29 shots on Backstrom but never really made him work. Calgary is stuggling for playoff position and that type of loss didn't help.
Tonight's Matchup: If the Devils can do what they did in San Jose the othe night, strike hard and strike often, the Flames will break...easily. If you can get an early lead against the Flames, they don't really do well. The Flames aren't known for a potent offensive, they just don't have that type of team but their defense can be strong. Putting the first game back and the Olympics aside, Miikka Kiprusoff is one of the better goalies in the league. Did you know that Calgary is tied with Edmonton for the second lowest goals scored per game average?
The important thing for the Devils tonight is to not get caught up in playing Sutter. There were a lot of guys here last year that felt terrible when he left and I am sure would like to stick it to him but you have to be careful with things like that. I'm going to keep my eyes on Zubrus and Rolston tonight because both never liked how Sutter used them on the offense last season. They both knew they could do more but were never really given the oppurtunities.
Lastly, we will not see the debut of Martin Skoula tonight. Lou said on Thursday that Skoula would arrive in Calgary to with the team, but he won't play. All eyes will be on Mark Fraser and Anssi Salmela because I expect Jacques Lemaire base Skoula's playing time on their performance, so a good game from either of them will play a big role as to whether Skoula will be on the bench in Edmonton on Sunday.
Taking a stab at the lines tonight, I'll go with:
Zach Parise - Travis Zajac - Jamie Langenbrunner
Ilya Kovalchuk - Dainius Zubrus - Patrik Elias
Brian Rolston - Rob Niedermayer - David Clarkson
Jay Pandolfo - Dean McAmmond - Vladimir Zharkov
Andy Greene - Bryce Salvador
Colin White - Mike Mottau
Anssi Salmela - Mark Fraser