Game Preview: Flames vs Phoenix Coyotes

CALGARY FLAMES (28-24-11 67 points) vs. PHOENIX COYOTES (33-21-9 75 points) GAME 64

 

PREVIEW:

When hot meets cold something has to give, that is the case tonight as the struggling Flames head into Phoenix to face the red-hot Coyotes. This is the third of four meetings between the clubs, with Phoenix taking the first two games including a 4-3 SO victory last Thursday at the Dome. The Flames squandered a 2-0 first period lead and lost their second of their current 4-game skid. The Coyotes probably don’t want February to end as they went a remarkable 11-0-1 and jumped from 12th in the West to 3rd and leading the Pacific Division. Tonight’s game in Phoenix, kicks-off a mini 2-game road trip for the Flames as they will head into Anaheim tomorrow night. The Flames will also look to snap their current 6-game losing streak against the Coyotes.

The Flames had another lackluster performance against the Blues Monday night after GM Jay Feaster decided to neither buy nor sell at the deadline. The Flames were outshot for the 11th straight game and have been outscored 18-9 during their 4-game losing streak. Brent Sutter has decided to change up the lines as David Moss, who hasn’t played since Nov. 12, looks to be ready to return to the line-up tonight. Moss will play alongside Olli Jokinen and Curtis Glencross. The trio had a lot of success late last season at both ends of the ice but due to Moss’s injury, haven’t had much time to continue that chemistry this season. Mike Cammalleri will centre Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay on the Flames top line, and if the past tells us anything, this line could have some instant chemistry as well. Cammalleri and Tanguay have both separately had chemistry with Iginla, whether they can do it all together is something to be seen. The Flames currently sit 4 points back of the 8th place Dallas Stars heading into tonight’s must win.

The Coyotes have once again surpassed expectations this season and have shown the past three years how important great coaching and good team chemistry is. Coming off a 2-1 SO victory over the Canucks, the Coyotes finished the month on a six-game winning streak and an 11-0-1 record in February. The Coyotes red-hot February really shouldn’t surprise anyone as the Coyotes have had a similar streaks in the second half each of the past two years. They won nine straight in March 2010 and took eight in a row last February to qualify for the post-season each year. The Coyotes have been led by age-less Ray Whitney and Radim Vrbata up front and Mike Smith in net. Whitney or ‘the Wizard’ is currently on a six-game point streak (3-4-7) while Smith is currently on a Coyote record 11-game winning streak with a 1.42 GAA during that span. Smith was rewarded as the NHL’s first star of the month.

The Flames simply can’t afford to lose tonight as they shot themselves in the foot more than once during their winless 4-game homestand. They had spurts where they played well but spurts are nowhere close to how they should be playing, if they do in fact what to make the playoffs. The Flames top two lines have to be WAY better than they have been, starting with Captain Iginla who has a lone assist in his last five games. Feaster took a big risk by doing nothing at the deadline, whether it be buying or selling. Injured players, like Moss are getting closer to returning but it’s up to the current players in the line-up to make sure it isn’t too little too late. My verdict is still up in the air about Feaster but I think honoring Al MacInnis and not retiring his number, sums up the Flames mis-management in the last couple of years. How you don’t retire a guy’s number who put up 830 points and won the Conn Smythe during your franchises only Stanley Cup is beyond me. The onus this season is still on the players but if things continue to head down the road it looks like it will (missing the playoffs), I think it’s time for a complete Franchise re-vamp.

 

PROJECTED LINES:

Flames:                                                                        Coyotes:

1-TANGUAY-CAMMALLERI-IGINLA                             1-WHITNEY-HANZAL-VRBATA

2-GLENCROSS-JOKINEN-MOSS                                2-KORPIKOSKI-VERMETTE-DOAN

3-KOSTOPOULOS-STAJAN-COMEAU                        3-BOEDKER-LANGKOW-TORRES

4-BOUMA-HORAK-JACKMAN                                      4-BISSONNETTE-GORDON-PYATT

 

1-BOUWMEESTER-SMITH                                          1-YANDLE-AUCOIN

2-GIORDANO-HANNAN                                               2-EKMAN-LARSSON -ROZSIVAL

3-BRODIE-SARICH                                                      3-STONE-SUMMERS

 

1-KIPRUSOFF                                                              1-SMITH

2-KARLSSON                                                               2-LaBARBERA

 

EXTRA- BABCHUK, IRVING                                         EXTRA-

 

INJURIES:

Flames: D- Chris Butler (Lower Body- 3 weeks), C- Mikael Backlund (Upper Body- IR), C- Blair Jones (Ankle- IR), RW- Lee Stempniak (Ankle- IR)

Coyotes: RW- Gilbert Brule (Head- Day-to-Day), C- Kyle Chipchura (Wrist- IR), D- Rostislav Klesla (Upper Body- IR), D- Derek Morris (Groin- IR), D- David Schlemko (Lower Body- IR), D- Kurt Sauer (Head- IR)

 

STATS:

Flames

PLAYER

GP

GOALS

ASSISTS

POINTS

+/-

O. Jokinen

63

19

32

51

1

J. Iginla

63

23

25

48

-7

A. Tanguay

47

9

27

36

6

C Glencross

48

19

15

34

-4

M. Cammalleri

56

14

16

30

-12

 

Coyotes

PLAYER

GP

GOALS

ASSISTS

POINTS

+/-

R. Whitney

63

19

39

58

25

R. Vrbata

63

30

23

53

21

S. Doan

63

20

18

38

-7

K. Yandle

63

8

28

36

7

L. Korpikoski

63

13

17

30

10

 

PP-

Flames: 17.1% (15th)

Coyotes: 13.2% (30th)

PK-

Flames: 82.8% (11th)

Coyotes: 83.9% (8th)

 

WESTERN CONFERENCE STANDINGS:

 

GP

WINS

LOSSES

OTL

POINTS

1. VANCOUVER

64

40

16

8

88

2. ST. LOUIS

64

40

17

7

87

3. PHOENIX

63

33

21

9

75

4. DETROIT

64

42

19

3

87

5. NASHVILLE

64

37

20

7

81

6. CHICAGO

65

34

24

7

75

7. SAN JOSE

62

33

22

7

73

8. DALLAS

64

33

26

5

71

 

9. COLORADO

64

33

27

4

70

10. L.A

64

29

23

12

70

11. CALGARY

63

28

24

11

67

12.MINNESOTA

63

28

26

9

65

13. ANAHEIM

64

27

27

10

64

14.EDMONTON

63

25

32

6

56

15. COLUMBUS

63

18

38

7

43

 

DID YOU KNOW?

  • Last ten games: Flames 4-2-4, Coyotes 9-0-1
  • The road for the Flames doesn’t get any easier in March as they are set to play a franchise record 17 games.
  • The road has been good for the Flames PP as they have the 5th best PP at 21.3%.
  • Curtis Glencross scored his first goal Tuesday since returning from injury. Glencross leads the NHL in shooting percentage, with a 24.4% conversion rate (19 for 78).
  • David Moss who will play his first game since Nov. 12 when he suffered an ankle injury as appeared in 15 games for the Flames this season posting a goal and 5 points.
  • The Flames have a 19-0-4 record when leading after two periods.
  • The Coyotes current 12 game point streak is the third largest in the NHL this season. (BOS- 14 games, VAN- 13 games).
  • Phoenix’s ‘Prime line’ of Ray Whitney, Martin Hanzal and Radim Vrbata continues to stay hot, recording 16 goals and 44 points over the Coyotes last 14 games.
  • The Coyotes will look to extend their home winning streak to 8 tonight which would be the longest since a 10-game run from Nov 21-Dec 29, 2009.
  • Head Coach Dave Tippett is three victories shy of 400.
  • Captain Shane Doan recorded his 11th career 20-goal season with his goal against the Oilers Feb. 25th

 

GAME DAY QUOTE:

"That was a heck of a month by any team's standards and we had to earn (wins) both home and on the road… We beat some quality teams.”

 – Coyotes forward Ray Whitney on their 11-0-1 month of February.

 

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