After a scrappy win in Los Angeles, the Calgary Flames hit the road once again as they engage in the fourth game of their five-game road trip. Tonight, they visit Arizona to play the Phoenix Coyotes.
This is the first of five meetings between the two new divisional rivals. By sheer coincidence, all three of Calgary’s visits to Phoenix will be on the back end of back-to-back games on the road. The two teams played three times last year, with Calgary winning two of three and the home team winning every game.
Courtesy of DailyFaceoff:
Cammalleri – Colborne – Stempniak
Glencross – Backlund – Jones
Baertschi – Monahan – Hudler
Bouma – Horak – Galiardi
BREEN – Brodie
Wideman – Russell
O’Brien – Butler
UPDATE: Giordano out tonight with unspecified injury. Chris Breen makes his NHL debut tonight.
Okay, here’s where things get complicated. David Jones and Matt Stajan are, as per Roger Millions, in Phoenix with the Flames. Yes, that means the team could be entirely healthy. To make room, the Flames have assigned Ben Street to the AHL. Also via Millions, it’s undecided if Butler plays tonight, so maybe Chris Breen gets his shot. (Yay!)
But if you look at the four forward lines, they look pretty dandy. The Monahan line got leaned on heavily last night (getting 20 minutes), so expect the onus to shift a bit. Either way, that’s a strong top nine and a pretty solid fourth line. No face-punchers here, except for maybe Bouma.
And Joey MacDonald, the pride of Pictou, NS, gets his sixth start of 2013-14. He’s 3-1-1 with a 2.99 goals against average and a .891 save percentage in five prior starts.
Klinkhammer – Vermette – Doan**
Korpikoski – Hanzal – Vrbata
Boedker – Ribeiro – Moss
Chipchura – Halpern – Bissonnette
Ekman-Larsson – Michalek
Morris – Yandle
Schlemko – Klesla
UPDATE: No Doan tonight.
The Coyotes are 5-2-2 on the year and have been off since Saturday, when they were beaten by the Kings, whom the Flames just beat by the way. Doan is reportedly doubtful for tonight, but it’s unclear who’d slot in where in that case – presumably Brandon Yip slots in, but not on the first line.
Overall, the Coyotes have been a bit of surprise thus far. They’re one of the better teams in the Western Conference despite not boasting a lot star power (sound familiar?). They’re arguably propped up by some great goaltending from Mike Smith, but they have a fairly balanced attack and three lines that can perform rather well. In many ways, Dave Tippett’s crew is almost a mirror image of the Flames.
After bouncing around the pros for a few years, Lethbridge’s Rob Klinkhammer has emerged as a regular player for the Coyotes, putting up 5 points in 9 games and leading the team in plus/minus so far. It’s unclear if he can keep his play consistent over an 82-game season, but I’m sure he’s happy for the chance to try.
SUM IT UP
After losing their first two games of their road trip, the Flames won last night and have a chance to even up their record on this trip with a win in the desert tonight. But they’ll need to continue to bring the proverbial heat, though, as Karri Ramo won’t be in net to bail them out tonight.
The puck drops at 8pm MT on Sportsnet, the Fan 960 and, as usual, the FlamesNation crew will be all over this on Twitter and here for the post-game.