212Sam Bennett

FGD: Flames host the Desert Dogs (7pm MT, no TV)

The Calgary Flames have yet to win in the preseason. But that’s not really what preseason’s all about; the seven games of warm-up are primarily to build chemistry, prevent injury, and decide a handful of jobs on the fringes of the team’s roster. The Flames host the Arizona Coyotes in their fourth preseason game – and their last home game until Sept. 30. It might be the last chance for fans to see several players this year, as the axe is expected to fall tomorrow as the Flames try to get their camp roster down to a manageable number.

The puck drops at 7 p.m. MT and you can catch the action on Sportsnet 960 The Fan. There’s no television for tonight games, though. (Update: The Flames site is streaming it, though.)

The Flames

Right now the Flames have 47 players in camp and more cuts are expected to hit sometime tomorrow. It’s hard to imagine the coaching staff was too excited with the efforts from veteran players in the first three contests – rookie Dillon Dube was arguably the standout – and so expect a much more spirited effort from the gentlemen on one-way contracts this evening.

Here are projected lines, via Pat Steinberg:

Gaudreau – Bennett – Ferland
Shinkaruk – Jankowski – Brouwer
Klimchuk – F.Hamilton – Hathaway
Glass – Stajan – Lazar

Giordano – D.Hamilton
Brodie – Hamonic
Wotherspoon – Andersson

Mike Smith starts, with David Rittich backing up.

No Matthew Tkachuk (hip) or Sean Monahan (undisclosed) tonight, though both skated today and Tkachuk is expected to play on Monday. Everybody is playing their second game, except for Jankowski, Lazar, Andersson and Glass, who are all playing in their third. Keep an eye on Jankowski, who has been very solid in his first two outings in the preseason. And also keep an eye on Smith, because his black gear with red trim looks very sharp with a Flames home jersey.

The Coyotes

The Coyotes had a game wiped out due to bad ice conditions at Gila River Arena, and so their ability to try out borderline players is significantly diminished. They’ve played just one preseason game thus far, beating Anaheim 5-1 at the Honda Center on Wednesday night. Given the number of bodies still in Coyotes camp, we likely won’t see many of the players that skated in that one.

It’s a more youthful roster than I expected to see, but Flames fans will get to see Jason Demers in his new silks and Calgary product Adin Hill backing up Louis Domingue.

History Lesson

The Flames play Arizona infrequently in the preseason. They beat them in their only meeting last year, but didn’t face them at all in 2015.

Sum It Up

The Flames would probably be fine with a win against Arizona, but I’m sure they’ll settle for some good, consistent performances from their key players instead.