Coming off a frustrating 5-3 loss against the Ottawa Senators, the New Jersey Devils return home to face the Calgary Flames, who will be playing in the first of a six-game road trip. These teams previously met earlier this season in Calgary, a game that ended with the Flames prevailing in a shootout victory. Calgary is one of the league’s best road teams, currently boasting a 14-5-5 away record. The Flames won four out of their last five away games (4-0-1), and have yet to lose a road regulation matchup in 2018. New Jersey on the other hand, has won three out of its last four matchups, having won just half of their last six home games (3-3-0).
As of typing this, it remains to be seen whether the Devils will go with 11 forwards and seven defensemen, or four full lines and six blue liners tonight. Despite the game being against his former team, Keith Kinkaid looks like he’s getting the nod in net, while backup Eddie Lack will have to wait for his first start as a New Jersey Devil. Although center Brian Boyle didn’t participate in today’s morning skate, he’s expected to play tonight. The Devils also recalled right wing Jimmy Hayes from his conditioning stint in Binghamton, however it remains to be seen whether he plays tonight as well. Rookie forward John Quenneville is also expected to make his season debut tonight, after being recently called up.
Keys to the Game
The Hot Hands…Both teams are going into tonight with forwards riding significant hot streaks. New Jersey forwards Taylor Hall (seven goals, 16 points in 11 contests) and Travis Zajac (three goals, four points in two contests) have spearheaded the Devils’ offensive production as of late. Calgary will counter with the likes of Johnny Gaudreau (four goals, 21 points in 15 contests) and Sean Monahan (four goals, five points in six contests). Simply put, it wouldn’t surprise me if the team that scores first tonight winds up running away with the rest of the game.
Which Kinkaid Will Show Up Tonight…? Backup goaltender Keith Kinkaid has, for the most part, had a volatile showing this season. In his last three games before Tuesday’s loss, Kinkaid surrendered five goals off 64 shots. On Tuesday, he gave up four goals off 20 shots, before being eventually relieved by Lack. Despite a career-best 10-5-2 record, Kinkaid has a 3.13 GAA, .893 SV%, and surrendered three or more goals in 11 of his 18 starts. Kinkaid can’t afford to maintain this quality of play against a hot road team with dangerous offensive assets like Gaudreau, Monahan, and Michael Ferland.
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