After 83 previous contests, the Calgary Flames finally put 2016 to bed tonight. The year wasn’t great to the team, but they’ve definitely done some good things. They close the year our with a relatively easy assignment in the National Hockey League’s team with the fewest wins: the Arizona Coyotes. That said, the Flames have required overtime to beat the Coyotes in two of their three meetings this season, so they probably shouldn’t take them too lightly.
The puck drops just after 8 p.m. MT on CBC, Sportsnet One and 360 – it’s a split national-feed game with the Canucks/Oilers game – and Sportsnet 960 The Fan.
Lines via Daily Faceoff:
After Chad Johnson lost against Anaheim – losing his fourth consecutive start – Brian Elliott returns to the net for the Flames. He’s 6-9-1 with a 3.07 goals against average and .890 save percentage. He’s won his last three starts, in contrast to Johnson, so this seems like a pretty simple decision for Glen Gulutzan before a three day break between games.
Dougie Hamilton skated at the optional morning skate and is expected to return to the line-up (which should bump Tyler Wotherspoon back to the press box). The other change expected is Sean Monahan and Sam Bennett swapping lines, so Monahan is reunited with Johnny Gaudreau. Monahan has been one of the worst Flames in recent weeks in terms of possession stats, so perhaps the thought is Gaudreau can get him going (and provide Gaudreau with a linemate with a bit more finish than Ferland or Versteeg).
The Flames power play didn’t score against Anaheim and their penalty kill allowed a pair of goals. The locals are hoping for bounce-back games from both special teams units. The Flames lit up Arizona’s PK in their last outing, scoring three PP goals, so that hope isn’t blind or poorly-placed.
Lines via Daily Faceoff:
It’s unclear right now who’s starting for the Coyotes. I’m leaning Louie Domingue, if only because Mike Smith got tuned up against the Rangers in Arizona’s last outing. Domingue is 4-9-1 with a 3.37 goals against average and .890 save percentage. Smith is better, going 7-10-4 with a 2.82 goals against average and .920 save percentage.
Update: It IS Domingue in for Arizona tonight.
Arizona is missing all kinds of players right now: Brad Richardson, Dave Bolland, Max Domi and Ryan White. Kevin Connauton was sent to the AHL’s Tucson Roadrunners on a conditioning stint yesterday, so he’s “on the roster” but not available. The Coyotes are having a miserable year (with half of it to go). They have one player with more than 20 points (Radim Vrbata). Between injuries and inconsistency, they just haven’t become a dangerous team this year.
In 190 previous regular season meetings between the Flames and Jets 1.0/Coyotes, the Flames are 91-72-27. This is the fourth of five meetings between these Pacific Division foes this season; the Flames won the first three (2-1 in OT, 2-1 in OT and 4-2). They’ll play one last time in February.
KNOW THY ENEMY
Some Coyotes follows for tonight:
SUM IT UP
The Flames close out 2016 looking for their 20th win of the season. Luckily for them, it’s a winnable game against a divisional opponent (coming during one of the easier stretches of their schedule). Hopefully they can have a strong 60 minute effort and give themselves something to build on as they head into 2017.