Due to their move to the Eastern Conference this season, the Detroit Red Wings won’t see the Calgary Flames as much as they’re used to. They won’t mind the lack of travel to the West or the late-night start times, and on Friday they make their only visit of the season to the Saddledome. The Flames have cooled off after a hot start, but feature two players who the Red Wings are incredibly familiar with. Goaltender Joey MacDonald played 37 games for the Red Wings over three seasons, and was a big part of keeping the team’s record-setting run of 23 consecutive wins at home during the 2011-12 season alive. Jiri Hudler leads the Flames with 13 points, and is now in his second season with Calgary after leaving Detroit for a bigger contract.
The Red Wings were able to snap a four-game losing streak with a 2-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday, and need to keep that momentum going against the Flames. Goaltender Jimmy Howard will get the start in net, and will likely see more action than he did in turning aside 19 of 20 shots on Wednesday. With games on back-to-back nights, the Red Wings were thrown a bit of a curve when backup netminder Jonas Gustavsson was sidelined with a neck injury. Petr Mrazek was called up from the AHL, and could get the Saturday start against the Edmonton Oilers. MacDonald has a 3-2-1 record this season, mostly serving as a backup to Karri Ramo. He has performed well, considering he gets little defensive help in front of him. The Flames have the second-worst goals against in the league, and the fifth-worst penalty kill. Both of those factors should help get the low-scoring Detroit offense going, especially since most of the forwards are familiar with MacDonald’s strengths and weaknesses.