Joey MacDonald will get the nod between the pipes Friday night against the Detroit Red Wings, facing off against his former club for just the second time in his career.
“When you get an opportunity to play your former team it’s energizing,” said MacDonald, who was plucked off waivers from Detroit by the Calgary Flames last February. “I spent a lot of time there, know some of the guys really well. It’s going to be a fun, exciting game.”
The game will mark just the second time in his career MacDonald has played against the Wings. In his only other outing, the 33-year-old blanked Detroit, making 42 saves in a 2-0 shutout victory as a member of the New York Islanders. on March 27, 2009.
There’s definitely extra motivation in facing your former club, according to coach Bob Hartley.
“I think that goalies always like to play against their former team,” he said. “It’s probably just like a motivator factor more than anything. Mac has been great for us and he deserves the start.”
Having spent parts of three seasons in the Red Wings organization, MacDonald isn’t sure if it’s he who has the advantage or his former teammates.
“I think it works both ways,” he said. “I’ve been there for quite a while, I know some of their shooters. I think they probably know where to shoot on me. It’s going to be fun. It’s going to be a challenging game.”
There's motivation at the other end, too.
Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard is looking forward to battling against his old creasemate.
“Joey’s a top notch guy," Howard said. "We’ve had a lot of fun both on the ice and off the ice. I look forward to seeing him out there. It’s going to be a blast.”
The Wings come to Calgary after posting a 2-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday, a convincing victory in the eyes of Hartley.
“It’s a very good hockey club,” he said. “As we saw, they went into Vancouver and beat the Canucks and the Canucks were playing real good hockey.
“Whenever you’re top three forwards are Datsyuk, Zetterberg and Alfredsson, you know that those guys don’t cheat the game. They play the game in the three zones the way hockey should be played. They’re great workers, they’re unbelievable talented players. It makes it interesting and for us, we prepare just like we prepare for any other team.”
MacDonald isn’t the only player set to square off against his former team.
Jiri Hudler, who leads the Flames with 13 points in 12 games this season, will face his former club Friday night. He enters the game as Calgary’s top offensive threat.
“Huds has been doing what he’s been doing in Detroit,” MacDonald said. “He’s a great leader, he’s shown it on and off the ice. When he gets the puck, he holds onto it. He’s got that great patience like we all know. He’s been playing with these young guys here. They’re looking at him and they’re learning a lot from him. It’s good for Huds to have a good start.”
Hudler’s hot start started on Day One, according to Hartley.
“I think it has all to do with the summer that he put in,” Hartley said. “Last year, there was lots of uncertainties with the work stoppage then the passing of his dad. There’s many things that went on with Jiri last year off the ice and those are not excuses, they’re facts. They’re facts of life that everyone unfortunately sometimes has to go through.
“This year, Jiri showed up to camp in great shape. His season started right from Day 1 at camp. He’s been unbelievable. He’s a great leader. For me, he’s our best forward.”
VS. THE RED WINGS
All-time vs. the Red Wings: 66-64-16-4
All-time vs. the Red Wings in Calgary: 31-22-4-2
Last 10 games vs. the Red Wings: 5-3-1-1
Last 10 games vs. the Red Wings in Calgary: 4-5-0-1
In the truncated 2012-13 season, Mike Cammalleri led the Flames in scoring against the Red Wings with 4 assists in 3 games. Curtis Glencross (2 goals, 1 assist), Lee Stempniak (2 goals, 1 assist), Matt Stajan (3 assists) and Dennis Wideman (1 goal, 2 assists) trailed the winger with 3 points each against Detroit in 3 games.
The Red Wings made two stops at the Scotiabank Saddledome last year and the Flames picked up wins in both games. On Mar. 13, they topped Detroit 5-2 and on Apr. 17, they edged the Red Wings 3-2.
MILESTONES WITHIN REACH
Mike Cammalleri needs 1 assist for 250.
Shane O'Brien needs 5 games for 500.
Tim Jackman needs 5 games for 400.
Dennis Wideman needs 7 games for 600.
TJ Galiardi needs 8 points for 100.
Tonight's game is being broadcast at 7:00 PM MST on Sportsnet West with Rob Kerr providing play-by-play and Charlie Simmer providing colour commentary. Sportsnet 960 The FAN will carry the radio coverage with play-by-play from Peter Maher and colour commentary from Peter Peter Loubardias.