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Game 63: Hello Old Friend

The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (38-21-3) face off against the Calgary Flames (30-24-9). This is the first and only meeting between the two teams this season.

The Last Devils Game: The Devils defeated the San Jose Sharks, 4-3, Tuesday night. After scoring four unanswered goals (three in the second period), the Devils allowed San Jose to climb back into the game. The Sharks scored three goals in 2:46 to pull within one, but the Devils held on for the win. Devils center Travis Zajac scored the game-winning goal, his 20th of the season. That matches his previous career high, set last season.

The Devils will face their former coach, Brent Sutter, tonight in Calgary.

The Last Flames Game: The Flames were shut out in Minnesota, 4-0, Wednesday night. Niklas Backstrom made 29 saves for his second shutout of the season. Calgary is currently one point out of the playoffs in the West.

The Last Devils – Flames Game: In their matchup last season (March 10, 2009), the Devils defeated the Flames, 3-2. Martin Brodeur stopped 35 pucks, and Zach Parise scored the game-winning goal in the third period.

Tonight’s Matchup: The Devils showed some good signs against the Flames. They attacked the Sharks and put pressure on the defense, leading to their three second-period goals. The Devils caused turnovers on the forecheck and made Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabakov make tough saves. The second line of Ilya Kovalchuk – Dainius Zubrus – Patrik Elias really played well, spending most of the game in the Sharks zone.

But the Devils bad tendencies also reared its ugly head. The Devils tendency to not play for stretches hurt them, as they allowed a 4-0 lead to evaporate to a 4-3 edge. Granted, they refocused and won the game, but it’s still not something to accept. The Devils need to play sixty minutes a game, night in and night out. It didn’t cost them Tuesday night, but the Devils will drop important games down the stretch if they continue that trend.

The Devils need to continue their strong play from the other night. Mikka Kiprusoff is a great goalie, but we saw what the team can do to good goalies. The Flames haven’t been the hottest offensive team, and going against a sharp goalie like Brodeur can stymie them. The Devils can’t fall into the “Sutter vs. us” mentality. Sutter would have left the team after his contract regardless. He clearly didn’t want to be there anymore. I know the Devils will want to beat their old coach, but it shouldn’t be their only motivation. He won’t be on the ice, and the Devils need to focus on those players.

Game time is 9:00 p.m. and will be on MSG Plus. Make sure you check out The Devils Den or Running With The Devils for a live game blog!

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