November 6 – Day 25 – One more before heading back east

For a Sunday, we have quite a few games on the schedule. What’s pro football? I’ve never heard of it.

Two games drop the puck at 5 p.m. (Colorado at St. Louis and Edmonton at Detroit), followed an hour later by New Jersey at Carolina. The usual starting time of 7 p.m. marks the beginning of a couple of contests (Dallas at Chicago [TVAS] and Winnipeg at the New York Rangers [SN/SN360]) and tonight’s nightcap, Calgary at Anaheim, goes underway at 9:30 p.m. All times eastern.

We’ve had a nice weekend out on the west coast. There’s no games out here tomorrow, so let’s catch one more game before heading back east.

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It’s our third game on the Pond in five days, and if this one follows the scoring of the last two, the winner should cruise to a 5-1 victory.

Enter the visiting 5-7-1 Calgary Flames. Just last night the Flames were up the freeway in the Staples Center, but they lost 5-0 to the Kings. While their offense is certainly capable of scoring, Calgary is held back by the large quantities of goals they allow.

Brian Elliott has started nine of the Flames‘ games, including last night’s contest. Before the puck was dropped yesterday, Elliott had a .889 save percentage for 3.12 GAA – a far cry from the .93/2.07 he notched last year with the Blues. Chad Johnson, Elliott’s backup, has better stats – .908 save percentage for a 2.67 GAA – but on a small sampe size, with only four starts to his credit this season.

Regardless of who starts in net for the Flames, they need to do better.  Plain and simple. Led by Mark Giordano‘s 37 blocks, Calgary‘s defenders have allowed the average number of pucks to reach Elliott and Johnson, so the fault does not lie along the blueline.

One way to take pressure off the last line of defense needs to be avoiding the penalty box. Calgary is home to the second-worst penalty kill in the, neutralizing only 73.1% of opposing power plays.

Defending home ice this evening are the 5-5-2 Anaheim Ducks. They play a well rounded game for a +2 goal differential.

A strong suit I’ve liked out of the Ducks has been their commitment to special teams. Successful on 24.4% of power plays, Anaheim ranks sixth-best in the NHL with the man-advantage. They back that with the 10th-best penalty kill, refusing to yield a power play goal on 83% of opposing attempts.

Some players to keep an eye on tonight include Anaheim‘s John Gibson (one shutout [tied for sixth-most in the league]) and Calgary‘s Michael Frolik (nine points on five goals [both lead the team]).

Vegas marks Anaheim as a -190 favorite coming into tonight’s game, one of the most uneven lines on today’s schedule. Given Calgary‘s inability to stop the Ducks‘ power play, much less their standard offense, I think Anaheim easily defends home ice for the victory.

Hockey Birthday

  • Erik Cole (1978-) – The 71st overall selection in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft, this left wing is still technically active in the league even though he hasn’t played since the 2014-’15 season. He’s most known for his two stints in Carolina, playing 557 games over nine seasons.
  • Brad Stuart (1979-) – The third overall pick of that draft is in the same situation as Cole. The defenseman was drafted by San Jose, and played 486 games over eight seasons with the Sharks.
  • Andrew Murray (1981-) – Drafted 242nd overall in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft by Columbus, Murray’s career has taken him away from North America to the KHL from 2013-’15.

The Penguins are taking no prisoners as of late, as their 5-0 victory over San Jose in yesterday’s Game of the Day is the fifth in their last six games.

Chris Kunitz (Evgeni Malkin and Ian Cole) takes credit for the game-winning tally, a snap shot only 4:22 after initial puck drop. Second Star of the Game Sidney Crosby (Third Star Carl Hagelin and Conor Sheary) tacked on the second-and-final goal of the first period with 1:32 remaining in the frame.

Crosby (Hagelin and Brian Dumoulin), Eric Fehr (Matt Cullen and Sheary) and Nick Bonino (Trevor Daley and Hagelin) scored the three remaining goals during the second period.

First Star Matt Murray earns the shutout victory after saving all 32 shots he faced, while Martin Jones saved four-of-seven (57.1%) for the loss. He was replaced following Crosby’s second goal, only 13 seconds into the second period, by Aaron Dell, who saved 16-of-18 (88.9%) for no decision.

With that victory by the visiting Penguins, the DtFR Game of the Day series stands at 14-10-3, favoring the home squads by only two points.

Bonus stat: Five of our last seven Game of the Days have been won by a five-goal offense, beginning with Pittsburgh in Philadelphia October 29.

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