FGD #26: A Rematch with Arizona (7pm; SNW)

The Calgary Flames (15-8-2) meet up with the Arizona Coyotes (10-12-3) tonight at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

It’ll be their second meeting in four days – part of a home and home series between the Flames and the team from Phoenix – though the Coyotes had a stop-over in Edmonton to play the Oilers in-between games. The Coyotes won 5-2 by way of a special teams bonanza (two short-handed goals and a power-play goal) in the second period.

And after yet another successful road trip – the Flames have gone over .500 on every single trek they’ve taken – the Flames are trying to continue their steady play.

The puck drops at 7pm MT and you can catch the action on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan!

THE FLAMES

The locals are fresh off a three game road trip and two days with no games, a rarity that will soon disappear with the frantic December schedule. They’re 7-3-0 in their last 10 games – only Chicago, Nashville and the Islanders have won more games recently – and continue their improbable run.

Lines, via your best pals at Daily Faceoff.

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Note: SMID IS IN, DIAZ IS NOT.

Karri Ramo gets his third straight start. He’s gone on an impressive run – he hasn’t allowed a goal since allowing a goal mid-way through the third period against New Jersey. That’s two full games, half a third period (and an overtime). He’s 6-2-1 with a 2.28 goals against average and .919 save percentage.

Other than Smid back in for Diaz, no real line-up changes. Matt Stajan and Mason Raymond skated with the team today – and a bit more after morning skate – but are obviously a bit away from making their returns.

THE COYOTES

Arizona won last night. In Edmonton. You may have heard.

They scored three goals in a really short span – shorties by Tobias Reider at 0:36 and 1:34 of the second, followed by a power-play marker by Oliver Ekman-Larsson at 4:53 – completely sunk the Oilers and put the Coyotes in the driver’s seat.

Lines from last night, and presumably for tonight, via Daily Faceoff:

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Mike Smith got the start last night, so presumably Devan Dubnyk (5-1-1, 2.43 goals against average, .922 save percentage) gets the start. He last played against Calgary and lost 3-0 on Saturday night. (UPDATE: Dubnyk was skating this morning at the ‘Dome, so presumably Mike Smith starts instead. Dubnyk was so-so against Calgary, so starting Smith back-to-back does make some sense.)

Otherwise, no changes projected, outside of presumably Chris Summers coming in to play for the (presumably) injured Connor Murphy, who left the game last night in the second with an injury. The Coyotes, despite their win last night, are still sub-.500 and floating around the .500 mark over their last 10 games. They have a speedy team with some talented players, but for some reason they just aren’t executing the way they need to in order to compete in the West.

SUM IT UP

It’ll be interesting to see how both teams approach this. The Flames no doubt feel like they have Arizona’s number after that decisive 3-0 win in the desert on the weekend. The Coyotes probably feel pretty good about themselves after beating Edmonton last night. But will they be flat after playing and traveling? Will the Flames have a good first period push after a couple nights sleep in their own beds?

And can the Flames continue their consistent play for another few games, at least?

It’ll be an interesting game as the Flames begin a home-stand that includes visits from Jarome Iginla’s Colorado Avalanche (on Thursday) and the San Jose Sharks (on Saturday).

  • Rockmorton65

    Brodie +3 on the night so far. That takes him to +19 on the season, which is #2 in the league.

    Gio might have some competition (but not really) for Norris!

  • KiLLKiND

    Does anyone know how confident Gaudrow is in himself because from what I’ve seen this year he still hasn’t really driven to the net which I understand is hard to do when you’re small but he seems content with staying to the perimeter and passing from there. I feel like he still hasn’t fully adapted to the NHL yet he is beating the other teams D when he drives the wing but he is yet to take it from the wing to the net.

  • beloch

    @RexLebris

    “Dreger say no on is trying harder to improve his club than MacTavish.” This may be true but it doesn’t mask the mess that exists in Edmonton. Terrible drafting, cancer dressing room, horrendous culture and MacT needs to wear some of it (more sticks to Lowe). MacT had an opportunity to strengthen his team and didn’t do it. I can’t believe he thought the OIlers goaltending and defence was enough to win. If he did, he’s a fool. So now he’s stuck with a team that he did nothing to improve and he won’t make a deal because other GM’s will pick his pocket. That’s the reason you make your moves in the off season and not when you’re wallowing near 30th place. This is not against the city of Edmonton but the reality is they have a very difficult time attracting top talent and with their last 9 years and the issues the team is facing, I can’t imagine who would want to move there at this time.

    • RexLibris

      MacTavish has actually done quite a lot to try and improve the team.

      There are, by my count, only six players on the current roster that were here when MacTavish took over: Hall, Nugent-Hopkins, Eberle, Yakupov, Schultz and Petry.

      In his first season, by the mid-point, MacTavish accounted for approximately 25% of all trade transactions in the NHL.

      His first off-season he underestimated the need on defense. He improved that this off-season although he needs to take Scott Howson to task for recommending Nikitin. This year he underestimated their needs at C and overestimated the team’s ability to acquire one through free-agency/trade.

      Lack of depth at C and some very problematic roster decisions have sunk this team. They play Schultz and Nikitin far too much to have any success and they convinced themselves that Marincin belonged in the AHL while Draisaitl belonged in the NHL.

      Those decisions are the fault of management. Lack of effort is not.

        • RexLibris

          I think he had bigger fish to fry.

          C was glaring and D needed shoring up.

          G looked good enough given the price to be paid for any small improvement.

          And to be honest, I’m not sure Hiller would have fared very well with this defense and Freddie Chabot.

        • RexLibris

          That’s fair.

          Build up the middle.

          I will be very interested to see what approach the Flames take on deadline day.

          They have assets and, playoffs pending, could use some veteran assistance and insurance.

          This could be an intriguing year for the Flames, wins aside.

          • Brent G.

            They should actually look at trading a forward or two to shore up some good young defensive depth. Frankly they should do it anyways.

            Knowing Burke I don’t think the Flames will ever be a real buyer at the deadline. I could see them standing pat for the most part if they are in a playoff spot. Glencross could (maybe should) be traded , but you don’t want to risk throwing Monahan off his game. Even if it means losing him for nothing in the off season.

          • MattyFranchise

            Send Reinhart and a 4th to Buffalo for Meszaros. Just throwing this out there, haven’t don’t much research. But giving up a fringe prospect like Reinhart for a rental if the Flames are still in the play off race at the deadline doesn’t seem too unreasonable.

  • RexLibris

    Is there a reason that we are talking about the Oilers? They are struggling to stay above 30 place and quite frankly, I love it. I don’t want to analyze their team or conduct a psychology exam on Taylor Hall. And as much as I think Rex Libris has a sound hockey knowledge, I’m not sure why he is on a Flames site defending the Oilers. If you want to defend the team, go to OIlersnation and you’ll be evicerated by the Oilers faithful!!!!

    • RexLibris

      I just chimed in on Rieder and we all went from there.

      Agreed. Flames site, so Flames content.

      Flames losing another possession battle tonight but winning against an opponent on the second night of a back-to-back.

      This is something a good team can do – beat a vulnerable opponent and win a game where they should have the advantage but haven’t on paper.

      • Brent G.

        The thing I honestly cannot understand is why MacT chose to trade Gagner despite having no replacement at all. I agree Gagner wasn’t a long term solution for second line center but at least he was one today. It’s not like the trade knocked their socks off. Purcell is an okay 3rd liner on a below average team. Surely he could have always gotten an equivalent if not better return.

      • beloch

        Teams playing the Flames on the 2nd half of a back to back can’t use that excuse if the 1st half was against the Oilers. No one breaks a sweat or exerts energy beating those sad sacks

  • beloch

    Obligatory (I seem to be saying this every game):

    Gaudreau and Hudler were the top two possession forwards, again. Monahan wasn’t far behind and Brodano was excellent again.

    In addition, great game for Jooris! I loved how Gaudreau made multiple attempts and finally succeeded in setting him up for the hat trick. Good stuff!

    The Coyotoes had over 43 minutes of chase effect working for them this game, and the final corsi tally shows it: The Flames CF% was 40.7%! Ouch.

  • Scary Gary

    The bond and friendships these guys are building through winning will pay dividends down the road, you can tell they really enjoy playing with one another.

    • RedMan

      it does look that way – and a close dressing room goes a long way towards feeding the desire to support each other, play for each other, be accountable to each other.

      Just like Edmonton.