Calgary Flames: Three things to watch for vs. New Jersey Devils

CALGARY, AB - NOVEMBER 5: Sean Monahan
CALGARY, AB - NOVEMBER 5: Sean Monahan /

The Calgary Flames continue their road trip tonight vs. the New Jersey Devils. Let’s check out three things to watch out for.

The Calgary Flames will continue their six-game road trip tonight vs. the New Jersey Devils. They opened up their road trip with a win vs. the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday evening. The Flames will hope to improve their impressive 14-5-5 road record, one of the best road records in the NHL this season.

David Rittich and Keith Kinkaid will each get the starts tonight. Rittich has had all six of his NHL starts on the road where he is 4-0-2 and boasts a 0.938 save percentage. Kinkaid, on the other hand, allowed four goals on 20 shots and was replaced by Eddie Lack in the Devils loss against the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday.

These two teams have already met before on Nov. 5th where the Flames won 5-4 in a shootout. That being said, let’s check out three things the Flames must do in order to beat the Devils tonight.

Related Story: Rittich deserves more than just back-to-back starts

Keep Taylor Hall in check

Taylor Hall is one of the hottest players in the league right now. He’s currently on an 11-game point streak with seven goals and 19 points in that stretch. He’s also excellent on the powerplay with six powerplay goals and 19 PP points.

Unfortunately for the Flames, Hall is a great puck-possession player. Looking at the last game between these two teams, there was nobody on the Calgary Flames who was able to keep Hall in check. If there is one line, I’d put my money on the 3M line, but even they couldn’t control him last game. He scored less than two minutes in to open up the scoring.

In order to keep Hall and his line in check, the Flames need to be aggressive. Not just with hits, but in taking away their entries, which is why the 3M line should play against his line, which may be somewhat of a challenge since the Devils have home-ice advantage.

If the Flames can do their best at taking away clean entries and taking the puck away in the neutral zone, that’s all we can ask for. But let’s be real, Hall will most likely improve his point streak tonight.

Related Story: Flames finally achieve 0.500 at home vs. Devils

Special teams

Special teams, like every game, could be the end factor tonight.

The Calgary Flames penalty-kill has been quite good lately and one of the best in the NHL since the start of January. And the Devils powerplay hasn’t been that great since January, however, like I mentioned, Hall has a good amount of PP points and can find a lane to shoot. The Flames will just need to keep doing what they’ve been doing on the PK and let’s hope that Mikael Backlund or Michael Frolik don’t get any penalties tonight.

On the other side of things, the Flames powerplay has been somewhat atrocious and it’s the worst in the NHL since the start of January. In the game vs. the Blackhawks, it took them over a minute to set up on their regular powerplays and when they had a 5on3 for 1:40, they basically just kept passing it around the perimeter.

Let’s hope the Flames may finally realize that Dougie Hamilton is their best offensive defenceman and they’ll try him out on the first PP unit. I’d like to see a unit of Dougie, Mark Giordano, Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau, and Matthew Tkachuk. Dougie has a hard slap shot and can see through traffic. A good powerplay plan would be to get the puck to Dougie, have Tkachuk planted at the front, and just pepper the shots basically.

The Devils allowed two PP goals against vs. the Sens and both were slapshots. A good chance for the Flames to get a PP goal tonight will be from a Dougie slapper.

OTTAWA, ON – FEBRUARY 7 2018: (Photo by Francois Laplante/NHLI via Getty Images)
OTTAWA, ON – FEBRUARY 7 2018: (Photo by Francois Laplante/NHLI via Getty Images) /

Shoot at the net/take advantage of Kinkaid’s inconsistency

Shooting at the net may seem like an obvious one, but not for the Calgary Flames. In the game vs. the Blackhawks, the Flames only had 12 shots through the first two periods, but you wouldn’t think that was the case watching the game. At the end of the game, looking at all their shot attempts that weren’t blocked and didn’t count as shots, there were 21. 21 shots went either wide or hit the post.

21 is WAY too high of a number. I’d understand if that was including blocked shots, but it isn’t. They need to spend some practices just shooting it at the net, apparently.

On top of that, Keith Kinkaid has been quite inconsistent lately. He allows three goals on seven shots and gets pulled, then allows just one goal on 28 shots, then allows three goals on 25 shots, then just one goal on 16 shots, and then last game allowed four goals on 20 shots and gets pulled again. If the Flames can get more of their shots to actually hit the net, there’s a good chance they’ll get a few of them past Kinkaid.

Next: Flames Daily - Facing the Devils, Rittich gets the nod

The Devils are a great team with strong offence. But so are the Calgary Flames. The Flames have a good chance of improving their road record, but there’s a couple of little things they need to do here and there.

All I know is that I’m mad the Flames aren’t dealing with this southern Alberta snowstorm that lots of us have to deal with right now.