The Calgary Flames (13-10-1) played decently on Tuesday night in a 4-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs, but they were definitely the second-best team on the ice. The Flames get a home ice do-over tonight when they host the NHL’s worst team, standings-wise, the Arizona Coyotes (6-17-4). The Coyotes nearly beat the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night, but so far this season have been a massive disappointment. If you’re looking for the Flames to have a game where they get their offensive swagger back and finally get some traction, this is a prime contender.
The puck drops at 7 p.m. MT on Sportsnet 960 The Fan and Sportsnet 360.
Projected lines for tonight, courtesy of Daily Faceoff:
Gaudreau – Monahan (A) – Ferland
Tkachuk – Backlund – Frolik
Bennett – Jankowski – Jagr
Hathaway – Stajan – Brouwer (A)
Giordano (C) – D.Hamilton
Brodie – Hamonic
Kulak – Stone
For the 22nd time in 25 games, Mike Smith starts for the gentlemen in red. He’s 11-8-1 with a 2.67 goals against average and a .921 save percentage. He’s backed up by David Rittich. Smith has been Calgary’s most consistently good player so far this season, though it’s probably alright if you want to have concerns about workload. I mean, his backups have combined for three starts (with Rittich having the only win from those games). The scratches for tonight look to be Matt Bartkowski, Curtis Lazar and Freddie Hamilton.
The top six was very solid against Toronto, though they didn’t score, while the bottom six scored a goal but had their collective heads kicked in possession-wise. The Flames really need more from their lesser lights, because they’re really exposed when they play teams with some depth.
The power play was very flat on Tuesday without Kris Versteeg. Expect to see Troy Brouwer and Mark Jankowski tried out on the top unit to see if they can get things going.
Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:
Perlini – Stepan – Reider
Keller – Richardson – Strome
Domi – Dvorak – Fischer
Rinaldo – Cousins – Martinook
Ekman-Larsson (A) – Demers
Goligoski (A) – Hjalmarsson (A)
Connauton – Schenn
At this juncture, it’s unclear who’s going to start for the Coyotes. Scott Wedgewood started against the Oilers and fared fairly well, earning his team a point. He’s 2-3-2 with a 2.99 goals against average and .901 save percentage. Antti Raanta has been injured, but the thought earlier this week was that he might meet the team in Calgary. If Raanta’s good enough to meet the team, he might play. If not, then Marek Langhamer will dress as backup. The healthy scratches look to be Joel Hanley and Anthony Duclair.
The Coyotes remain a team in transition. They’re definitely not “worst team in the NHL” bad in terms of their talent level, but they haven’t performed nearly up to expectations. They’re one of the worst teams in the league, possession-wise, and so they’ve come by their dreadful record honestly.
Flames: Daniel Pribyl (knee) and Kris Versteeg (lower-body) are on the injured reserve. Jaromir Jagr (lower-body) missed Tuesday’s game but remains on the active roster.
Arizona: Dave Bolland (upper-body) and Jacob Chychrun (knee) are on the injured reserve, though Chychrun is now with Tucson of the AHL on a conditioning stint.
When Last We Met
This is the first of four meetings between these divisional rivals this season. Last season, the Flames won four out of five games with the Coyotes. Aside from the Flames’ 5-0 loss to Arizona, the other four games were fairly close.
Know Thy Enemy
Here are some dandy people that will tweet desert hockey tonight:
Sum It Up
The Flames are looking to bounce back from a home loss when they host the NHL’s worst team. This is a game that could go really well or really poorly, particularly if they take the Coyotes lightly and look ahead to Saturday’s big Battle of Alberta collision.
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