After five days away from the rink, the Calgary Flames are back in game action tonight at the Scotiabank Saddledome! The Flames begin the 26-game march to the finish line of the 2016-17 season with a game against the Arizona Coyotes. The Coyotes are one of the weakest clubs in the Western Conference and a team that the Flames have had a lot of success against this season. Then again, the Coyotes managed to beat the defending Stanley Cup champions (the Pittsburgh Penguins) on Saturday night, so they’re not exactly a complete pushover.
The puck drops after 7 p.m. MT on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan!
Lines via Daily Faceoff:
“Win and you’re in” continues for the Flames, so Chad Johnson starts again. He’s 17-12-1 with a 2.48 goals against average and .914 save percentage in 31 starts. He was quite good against the Penguins before the break.
The Flames are coming off their five day league-mandated break. They won three of four games in-between the All-Star Break and that mandated break. The hope is that they can keep their momentum going. Don’t expect any changes to the lineup tonight from what they dressed against Pittsburgh: Jyrki Jokipakka, Lance Bouma and Freddie Hamilton look to be the odd men out.
Keep an eye on Sean Monahan, who’s hunting for his 100th NHL goal, but also bear in mind that Mikael Backlund remains the team’s leading scorer and most consistent player (and isn’t that just a fun thing to read or write?). If Monahan can keep things rolling, suddenly the Flames have a few lines purring along and become a much more deep, dangerous offensive team.
Lines via Daily Faceoff:
After picking up the win on Saturday, Mike Smith is back in net for the Coyotes. He’s 13-15-6 with a 2.92 goals against average and .915 save percentage in 36 starts this season. He’s struggled with consistency this year, but he’s been quite good on occasion.
The Coyotes blew a 3-1 lead against Pittsburgh but managed to win in overtime anyway. They’re not a particularly great hockey team. They struggle to score. Radim Vrbata is the only player on the team with more than 30 points. They’re a really interesting team with a lot of youngsters on their roster that could eventually turn into something, but the team just hasn’t completely gelled this year and remain near the bottom of the standings.
Arizona could be dangerous in a year or two, but this isn’t their year.
This is the 192nd regular season meeting between the Flames franchise and Winnipeg/Arizona. The Flames are 92-72-27 all-time against the Coyotes franchise. This is the fifth and final game between these clubs this season; the Flames are 4-0-0, though two of their wins came in overtime.
KNOW THY ENEMY
Some Coyotes follows for tonight:
SUM IT UP
The Flames are back from the break and desperately need points in their bid for a playoff spot. Teams have generally struggled coming out of their bye periods. The Flames cannot afford a flat effort tonight because they cannot afford to let any points against any opponent slip through their fingers.