Game Preview: Flames vs Phoenix Coyotes

CALGARY FLAMES (33-25-12 78 points) vs. PHOENIX COYOTES (35-25-11 81 points) GAME 71

 

PREVIEW:

It doesn’t get any closer than it is now in the Western Conference. Even with the Flames huge overtime victory against the Sharks on Tuesday, the Flames stayed in 10th place, in a three way tie for 9th place with the Sharks and the Los Angeles Kings. The Coyotes come into Calgary for the 4th and final meeting against the Flames after a big 5-4 victory over the Canucks last night in Vancouver. Since these two teams last met on Mar. 1st, the teams have once again gone in the opposite direction. At the time, Phoenix was coming off an unbelievable month of February where they went 11-0-1, while the Flames were on a 4-game losing streak. Since then, the Flames used that victory to go on their current 5-1-1 streak, while the Coyotes won just their second game in their past 8 last night in Vancouver. The two teams now sit just 3 points apart heading into this crucial four-point game.

The Flames have played some inspired playoff hockey of late and have gotten contributions from everyone, including some unlikely players. It starts up front with Captain Jarome Iginla who is playing his best hockey of the season. Iginla who registered another goal and an assist against the Sharks on Tuesday is currently riding a 7-game point streak (7g, 6a) and a 5-game goal streak. Iginla’s strong play has no doubt inspired teammates to pick up their play as both Matt Stajan and rookie Sven Baertschi have been huge for the Flames as their unlikely heroes. Stajan scored the overtime GWG Tuesday night and has two goals and three assists during his own four-game point streak. Baertschi has lived up to the hype thus far, with two goals in his first three NHL games. I thought Baertschi was very good with his ice-time on Tuesday night and has gained trust from Brent Sutter as he saw a regular shift in overtime. Sutter has stated he would like Baertschi to stick with the big club, but with Lance Bouma and Lee Stempniak close to returning, tonight’s game could be Baertschi’s last.

The Coyotes finally got things back on track last night with their 5-4 victory over the Canucks. Their February success hasn’t carried over to March as they’ve lost their Pacific Division lead to the red-hot Dallas Stars and now only sit three points out of the Wests 9th place trifecta. Mike Smith has come back to reality after winning all of his 11 starts in February and posting a 1.42 GAA. Smith, who most likely will get the back-to-back start tonight, is 2-3-1 with a 3.11 GAA so far in this month. The Coyotes ‘Prime’ line of Ray Whitney, Radim Vrbata and Martin Hanzal, which was so big in the Yotes success, has been spilt up due to injury. Hanzal is currently day-to-day with an upper body injury but is with the Coyotes on their current road trip. Vrbata will be a game-time decision tonight after missing last night’s game due to illness.

With all these important games, the weather in this city, to me it is starting to feel like playoff time and if the Flames continue to play like they have, the post-season is a very strong possibility. As important as the victory was against the Sharks and winning is going forward, the Flames task is getting harder as they are now forced to try to win games in regulation to avoid those ugly three-point games. Things are so tight in the West, that if the Flames look to move up in the standings, they have to make sure they hold their opposition to ZERO points in the games they have control of. I don’t think I have ever seen it this close before, the Flames beat a team they were chasing by less than 2 points and didn’t move ahead of them in the standings after the victory. It’s the same story as the rest of this month; the Flames have to continue to play a complete team game, while being led by their best players.

At the end of the day the only thing we should hear from Peter Maher after a Flames game is… “You can put it in the win column!”

 

PROJECTED LINES:

Flames:                                                                        Coyotes:

1- TANGUAY-STAJAN-IGINLA                                     1- WHITNEY-VERMETTE-VRBATA

2- GLENCROSS-JOKINEN-MOSS                              2- TORRES-LANGKOW-DOAN

3- KOSTOPOULOS-NEMISZ-BAERTSCHI                 3- KORPIKOSKI-GORDON-PYATT

4- COMEAU-HORAK-DESBIENS                                4- BOEDKER-POULIOT-BRULE

 

1- BOUWMEESTER-SMITH                                        1- YANDLE-ROZSIVAL

2- GIORDANO-HANNAN                                             2- KLESLA - EKMAN-LARSSON

3- BABCHUK-SARICH                                                 3- SCHLEMKO-AUCOIN

 

1- KIPRUSOFF                                                            1- SMITH

2- IRVING                                                                     2- LaBARBERA

 

EXTRA- KARLSSON                                                 EXTRA- BISSONNETTE, SUMMERS, STONE

 

INJURIES:

Flames: RW- Lee Stempniak (Ankle- Day-to-Day), LW Lance Bouma (Upper Body- Day-to-Day), D- T.J Brodie (Upper Body- Day-to-Day), RW- Tim Jackman (Undisclosed- Day-to-Day), C- Mike Cammalleri (Upper Body- Day-to-Day), D- Chris Butler (Lower Body- IR), C- Mikael Backlund (Upper Body- IR), C- Blair Jones (Ankle- IR)

Coyotes: C- Martin Hanzal (Upper Body- Day-to-Day), C- Kyle Chipchura (Wrist- IR), D- Derek Morris (Personnel- Out Indefinitely)

 

STATS:

Flames

PLAYER

GP

G

A

PTS

+/-

J. Iginla

70

30

31

61

-5

O. Jokinen

70

21

37

58

2

A. Tanguay

54

11

35

46

7

C Glencross

55

25

18

43

-2

M. Cammalleri

59

15

18

33

-10

 

Coyotes

PLAYER

GP

G

A

PTS

+/-

R. Whitney

71

21

44

65

25

R. Vrbata

70

30

26

56

24

S. Doan

71

21

24

45

-8

K. Yandle

71

10

31

41

7

L. Korpikoski

71

15

18

33

3

 

PP-

Flames: 18.0% (13th)

Coyotes: 13.5% (30th)

PK-

Flames: 82.8% (12th)

Coyotes: 84.0% (8th)

 

WESTERN CONFERENCE STANDINGS:

 

GP

W

L

OTL

PTS

1. ST. LOUIS

71

45

18

8

98

2. VANCOUVER

70

42

20

8

92

3. DALLAS

71

39

27

5

83

4. DETROIT

71

44

24

3

91

5. NASHVILLE

69

41

21

7

89

6. CHICAGO

71

38

25

8

84

7. PHOENIX

71

35

25

11

81

8. COLORADO

72

38

30

4

80

 

9. SAN JOSE

69

34

25

10

78

10. CALGARY

70

33

25

12

78

11. L.A

70

33

25

12

78

12. ANAHEIM

71

30

30

11

71

13. MINNESOTA

70

29

31

10

68

14. EDMONTON

70

27

36

7

61

15. COLUMBUS

70

22

41

7

51

 

DID YOU KNOW?

  • Last ten games: Flames 5-2-3, Coyotes 4-4-2
  • With his goal against the Sharks, Jarome Iginla registered his 30th goal for the 11th consecutive season, becoming just the 7th player in NHL history to accomplish the feat.
  • Iginla also has four-consecutive multi-point games.
  • Miikka Kiprusoff continues to be the Flames back bone. Kiprusoff has lost in regulation this month, going 5-0-1 with a 2.60 GAA.
  • The Flames strong starts have been key to their late success. They have scored the first goal in 11 consecutive games, which is the best in the NHL this season.
  • The Flames have also been strong when leading after the second period. The Flames haven’t lost in regulation going 24-0-4.
  • Curtis Glencross’s seven game goal scoring streak came to an end against the Sharks after he was given a major and a game misconduct for a hit from behind. It was a horrible call as Glencross won’t see any disciplinary action from it.
  • This will be the Coyotes 11th set of B2B games this season. The Coyotes are 5-4-2 in the first game and 5-4-1 in the second game.
  • Ray ‘the Wizard’ Whitney has been simply remarkable for the Coyotes this season. He leads the team with 65 points and even with his line mates, Radim Vrbata and Martin Hanzal; Whitney registered another 3 assists last night in Vancouver.
  • Since being held scoreless in three straight games from Jan. 10-Jan .13th, Whitney has gone on a tare, registering 7 goals and 29 points in 26 games since.
  • The Coyotes are 26-7-1 this season when Whitney collects an assist.
  • Coyotes Head Coach, Dave Tippett is a lone victory from his 400th victory.
  • Former Calgary Hitmen defensemen, Michael Stone scored his first NHL goal against the San Jose Sharks on March 10th. Stone also registered an assist that game to record his first NHL multi-point game.

 

GAME DAY QUOTE:

"We've gone out before and we've been caught in playing their game… Not enough intensity in our game at the start. I think that's got to change tonight. I think the way we have been starting games, it's been a lot better.”

– Flames defensemen Cory Sarich on not getting caught up in the Coyotes game

 

 

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