The Calgary Flames (36-33-10) play their second-to-last home game of the season – and perhaps their most winnable remaining game – this evening at the Saddledome. They’re hosting the lowly Arizona Coyotes (28-40-11), who have been mired in the bottom of the standings for much of the season and have gotten through the mourning process and seem content to play spoiler these days. They’ve played well of late and, while beatable, will probably be a tough out for the locals.
The puck drops just after 7 p.m. MT on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan.
Projected lines, courtesy of Daily Faceoff:
Gaudreau – Bennett – Foo
Frolik – Backlund (A) – Brouwer (A)
Ferland – Jankowski – Lazar
Glass – Shore – Hathaway
Giordano (C) – Hamilton
Kulak – Andersson
Kylington – Bartkowski
Jon Gillies starts for the Flames. He’s backed up by Mike Smith. Matt Stajan and Chris Stewart are the healthy scratches, while the Flames are also without regulars TJ Brodie, Travis Hamonic, Sean Monahan, Kris Versteeg and Matthew Tkachuk due to injury (and non-regular Marek Hrivik). Oliver Kylington’s in town on an emergency recall in case anybody can’t go due to injury, illness or other reasons.
So, uh, the Flames won four games in March. All of their wins were against bottom-feeders like Edmonton, Buffalo and Ottawa. Their leading scorer was Johnny Gaudreau, who had three goals and nine points. If you wanted a reason for the team’s four freakin’ March wins, it’s that somebody with three goals led the team in March.
The auditions continue for Nick Shore, Spencer Foo, and half the defensive group.
Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:
Panik – Stepan – Keller
Domi – Strome – Rinaldo
Perlini – Archibald – Fischer
Martinook – Richardson – Cousins
Ekman-Larsson – Schenn
Chychrun – Goligoski
Connauton – Murphy
Antti Raanta starts for the Coyotes. He’s backed up by Darcy Kuemper. The projected scratches are Niklas Hjalmarsson and Freddie Hamilton – though there is a chance that Hamilton Bowl could come to fruition tonight.
The Coyotes have been at or near the NHL’s basement pretty much all season – they’ve been below .500 since the first game of the season – but they’ve seemed to get over it and have had a pretty strong March. They went 10-6-1 and beat some good teams, such as Minnesota, Los Angeles, Tampa Bay, Vegas and St. Louis. They’re not a great team, but they’re playing loose and aren’t to be taken too lightly.
Flames: Not expected back this season are Daniel Pribyl (knee), Marek Hrivik (upper-body), Kris Versteeg (hip), Sean Monahan (various), Matthew Tkachuk (suspected concussion) and TJ Brodie (upper-body). Travis Hamonic (upper-body) is out “for a bit” but might be able to return before the end of the season.
Arizona: Dave Bolland (lower-body), Laurent Dauphin (lower-body), Jason Demers (upper-body) and Christian Dvorak (undisclosed) are out.
When Last We Met
This is the fourth and final meeting between the Flames and Coyotes this season. The Flames have won two of three, with their lone loss being that awful 5-2 loss in Arizona a few weeks back.
Know Thy Enemy
These folks will tweet desert hockey tonight:
Sum It Up
The Flames continue to play out the string and try to make tinkers and tweaks to get a jump-start on next season.
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Let’s show Vegas something they’ve never seen before—Alberta hockey fans.
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