FGD 18: Taming the Coyotes (7pm MT, SN West)

After their longest road trip of the season, the Calgary Flames (8-7-2, 18 points) are finally back home. Time to check in on loved ones, catch up on episodes of Watchmen that piled up on the PVR, and play some hockey games to try to find the team’s swagger. They’ll work on that third thing tonight when they host the Arizona Coyotes (9-4-1, 19 points), who did the Lord’s work last night when they beat the Oilers in overtime.

The puck drops at 7 p.m. MT on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan.

The Flames

Projected lines, via Daily Faceoff:

Gaudreau – Monahan – Lindholm
Mangiapane – Backlund – Tkachuk
Quine – Ryan – Bennett
Rieder – Jankowski – Frolik

Giordano – Brodie
Hanifin – Hamonic
Kylington – Andersson

David Rittich starts for the Flames, backed up by Cam Talbot. The projected extra body is Michael Stone, while Milan Lucic serves the second and final game of his suspension.

The Flames were very much the 2019-20 Flames on their five game road trip: they were occasionally very good, occasionally really bad, and generally inconsistent. They went 2-2-1, exactly .500, while scoring 13 goals and allowing 13. We’re about a quarter through the season and the Flames are still muddling around and the hope is their four game home stand – which kicks off tonight – will give them the opportunity to finally kick things into gear.

If you’re an optimist, think of it this way: the Flames haven’t played particularly well yet this season but they’re still a smidge over .500 and very much in the playoff picture.

The Coyotes

Last night’s lines, via Daily Faceoff:

Hayton – Dvorak – Kessel
Keller – Schmaltz – Garland
Grabner – Stepan – Hinostroza
Crouse – Soderberg – Fischer

Ekman-Larsson – Demers
Chychrun – Goligoski
Ness – Oesterle

Antti Raanta starts tonight after Darcy Kuemper played in Edmonton. Last night’s scratches were Eric Comrie, Michael Chaput and Ilya Lybushkin. Potentially we could see one or two of the skaters rotate in given the back-to-back situation. (We’re not sure why they’re carrying three goalies either, as Comrie hasn’t played at all this season and rarely even dresses as back-up.)

The Coyotes have won four of their last five and are, along with the Vancouver Canucks, two of the biggest surprises in the NHL right now. Will their hot streak last? Well, they keep getting good goaltending and timely scoring from their underrated forward group, so why not?

These guys play a tight-checking style and do their best to clog up the ice so skilled forwards on the opposition can’t build speed. Expect a good amount of dump-and-chase from the Flames this evening.

The Numbers

Flames Coyotes
Wins 8 9
Points 18 19
Adjusted Corsi 51.2% 52.2%
Power Play 15.4% 22.5%
Penalty Kill 86.9% 81.6%

Injury Report

The Flames are without D Juuso Valimaki (ACL surgery) and F Austin Czarnik (lower body).

The Coyotes are missing F Brad Richardson (upper body), D Niklas Hjalmarsson (fibula) and F Marian Hossa (allergic to equipment).

When Last We Met

Calgary and Arizona played each other four times last season. The Flames won three of their meetings, including big-time 6-1 and 7-2 victories. Their last meeting, on Mar. 7, was a 2-0 Coyotes win in Glendale.

Know Thy Enemy

Here are some key Twitter peeps to follow for tonight: