FGD: HOW BOUT A WIN

-via Don’t worry1

The Calgary Flames (16-27-7) return home from a brief two-game road trip to take on the Phoenix Coyotes (23-17-9).  Puck drops at 7:30 pm MT on Sportsnet West.  The question is will the home winless streak continue?

The Scotiabank Saddledome, regarded as one of the toughest buildings for opponents to pick up a win only a few years ago, can now almost be considered an advantage for opposing teams.  The Flames currently find themselves in a franchise worst 7 game losing streak, having been shutout four times in that span as well. This is the team’s worst losing stretch ever at home and they haven’t been close to this bad at home since 1999, the young gun days, when a possible first line could include Clarke Wilm, Hnat Domenichelli and/or Harvey the Hound. 

That being said, the Flames’ play has improved remarkably in the past week and a half compared to the dark days of early January.  Counting the Pittsburgh game on January 11th, the Flames have played six games.  They have only won one game but they’ve been in 3 out of the 5 losses, losing by no more than a goal with a shootout loss in there as well.

The Flames have sparred off against the Coyotes three times this season, with the Coyotes holding a 2-1 advantage in the win-loss column. Last time out, the Coyotes put up a touchdown against the Flames minus the conversion point, taking a commanding 6-0 victory on January 7.  On the plus side, the Flames are back scoring goals.  As well, the Flames have beat the Yotes the last four times they’ve squared off at the Dome.  Perhaps tonight’s the night the streak ends!!

THE LINE-UP

As always, the lines come via www.dailyfaceoffs.com…

  • Hudler – Backlund – Stempniak
  • Bouma – Monahan – Colborne
  • Jones – Stajan – Byron
  • Westgarth – Street – McGrattan
  • Brodie – Giordano
  • Russell – Butler
  • Wideman – Smid
  • Ramo

Byron blocked a shot in the San Jose game and didn’t return in that game.  Sounds like he’s out for this one and Galiardi will take his spot on the Monahan line.

The Flames welcomed Kris Russell back to the line-up on Monday after missing 13 games and he took off right where he left off.  Russell played over 18 minutes, contributed an assist and was very noticable, in a positive way, out there.  He took home the Red Warrior honours as well.  Yesterday Roger Millions reported that the Flames appear to be closing in on a contract extension with Russell.  I can’t imagine any Flames’ fan is upset with that as he has been dynamite for the Flames.

Ramo, after a solid showing on Monday, will go again tonight.

THE OPPOSITION

  •  Doan – Ribeiro – Vrbata
  • Korpikoski – Vermette – Boedker
  • Kennedy – Klinkhammer – Moss
  • Chipchura – Halpern – Szwarz
  • Ekman Larsson – Michalek
  • Stone – Yandle
  • Morris – Schlemko
  • Smith

The Coyotes have not been very good of late, going 3-7-0 in their last ten.  Based on their line combinations, the Coyotes are really trying to put all of their bread in on basket to generate something as all of their offensive weapons – Doan, Ribeiro and Vrbata – are on one line.

Dave Tippett generally spreads those three names throughout the first three lines to create a balanced attack.  Looking at the current line combos, the offensive prowess really drops off significantly after that 1st line. 

Last time the Flames met the Coyotes was the day the Canadian Olympic Team was announced.  Mike Smith was in the running to be selected .  Regardless of if he was chosen or not, his emotions were running high that day so Tippett thought it best to sit him out.  Now that we are two weeks removed from the announcement, in which Smith did in fact make the roster, Smith’s emotions have calmed and he will likely be in the pipes tonight.

SUM IT UP

The Flames find themselves in their worst home losing stretch in franchise history.  They have lost seven straight games at the Saddledome.  The Flames only have one win in their last six games but have four straight wins against the Coyotes at the Dome though. With any luck, they can keep that positive streak against the Coyotes alive while ending the record-breaking home losing streak.