FGD #25: Hockey Night in Arizona (8pm MT, CBC)

The Calgary Flames reach the 25th game of their regular season schedule tonight when they tangle with the Arizona Coyotes in Glendale. The game will be Calgary’s 14th road game of the season and is the finale of their third road trip of the season. They’re 1-1-0 so far on this trip.

The Flames (14-8-2) are pretty well-rested, having had two days to ponder life in Arizona after their 2-0 win in San Jose on Wednesday. The Coyotes (9-11-3) look at that break and scoff, having been off since their 4-3 overtime loss to Colorado on Tuesday. But the Flames also faced a well-rested home team in San Jose and played a strong 60 minutes, so it’s not like the off days mean much – it’s all about what you do with ’em.

The puck drops tonight at 8pm MT on CBC and Sportsnet 960 The Fan. Per Sportsnet PR, Paul Romanuk and Mike Johnson have the call.

THE FLAMES

Calgary hasn’t lost back-to-back games in regulation and have winning records on each of their first two road trips this year. Tonight they can make it three trips in a row over .500. Considering they were five games below .500 last year away from the ‘Dome, being a better road team is a big step forward for this group.

Here’s lines from Daily Faceoff.

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At practice yesterday, it appeared that the likely scratches are Sven Baertschi and Corban Knight. In that case, swap in Brian McGrattan for Baertschi and all is well. Don’t freak out (but I’d rather see Baertschi in over Bollig or McGrattan, too). Presumably Engelland comes back in for Diaz if he’s 100% recovered from whatever knocked him out last-minute in San Jose. If/when line-ups change, Daily Faceoff will have the updates on their site.

Karri Ramo gets the start for the Flames. He’s 5-2-1 with a 2.54 goals against average and a .911 save percentage. He’s been strong the last two games, and it’s good to see him bounce back from some iffy play against Florida a few starts ago.

THE COYOTES

Projected lines via Daily Faceoff.

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Sounds like Mike Smith starts for Arizona. He’s 4-11-2 with a 3.26 goals against average and a .893 save percentage. Back-up Devan Dubnyk has more wins (5) than Smith. Wowzers.

Despite being a well-coached bunch, the Coyotes are seemingly facing the limitations of their roster: they don’t score a ton and were previously a shot suppression group that relied on goaltending to keep them in games and timely goals to help them win ’em.

So far, timely goaltending has not emerged, which has left the Coyotes in the Pacific basement…just a smidge ahead of the Oilers.

ELSEWHERE

Lots of prospects in action tonight!

  • Adirondack hosts the team that ended the Heat’s playoffs last season, the Grand Rapids Griffins.
  • Boston University (Brandon Hickey) hosts Colgate University (Tim Harrison), Providence College (Gillies, Gilmour, Jankowski) faces Boston College, and Michigan State (Matt Deblouw) faces Princeton.
  • In the Dub: The Hitmen (Keegan Kanzig) host Vancouver, the Regina Pats (Morgan Klimchuk) visit Kelowna, the Wheat Kings (Eric Roy) visit Prince Albert, and the Victoria Royals (Austin Carroll) visit Kamloops.

SUM IT UP

The season continues for the Flames with another Pacific Division clash, this time with the Arizona Coyotes. Given that they’ve already beaten the Coyotes this year, the coaching staff likely feels they have a good handle on them.

Given the 14 wins they’ve guided the Flames to so far, I’m inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt.

The improbable season continues.