GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 28: Ray Whitney #13 of the Phoenix Coyotes celebrates with teammates on the bench after scoring a third period goal against the Vancouver Canucks during the NHL game at Jobing.com Arena on February 28, 2012 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Canucks 2-1 in an overtime shootout. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
The Phoenix Coyotes and the Calgary Flames meet up in Glendale on Thursday night with the teams headed in opposite directions. The Coyotes are coming off a franchise record 11-01 streak in February. The Flames, on the other hand, have lost four straight including a 4-3 shootout to Phoenix last Thursday. Both of team's two prior meetings this season went into extra time with the Yotes winning them both in the end.
Five For Winning
1. Don't take Penalties. The Coyotes have done an excellent job of staying out of the box this season. They have taken the fewest penalties in the NHL (230) and are averaging the fewest penalty minutes per game (8.3). Their discipline should come in handy against Calgary. The Flames have the fifth best power play on the road this season (21.3%) best in the league.
2. Secondary scoring. It's great that The Whitney-Hanzal-Vrbata line has been scoring with such regularity, but the Yotes need to get more consistent scoring from their second and third lines.
3. Score early. We could permanently put this one in every Five For Winning. In this case it is not just based on stats. The Flames aren't coming into the game with much in the way of confidence. The Desert Dogs would do best to make them even less confident by jumping on the boys from Alberta early.
4. End things in regulation. Obviously, no one wants to see Calgary, a team chasing Phoenix, getting any points. The Coyotes have played extra time in seven of their last nine games. They need to start finishing teams off earlier.
5. Energy. One would expect the Flames to come out ready to hit anything that moves. They are getting close to being desperate in terms of the playoff race. The Coyotes need to be able to match their intensity level. The Yotes don't have enough skill to to be able take periods/games off and expect to win.
Key Players to Watch
|2011 - Antoine Vermette||8||19||27||-16||12|
The newest member of the squad has fit in like a glove since his arrival. His hard work on both ends of the ice and in the faceoff circle has been noticeable and he has created scoring opportunities for himself and his linemates. He's due to break out in the scoring column.
|2011 - Jarome Iginla||23||25||48||-7||30|
Iggy drives the bus. He's been MIA lately and the bus has run off the road.
Likely Starting Goalies
|2011 - Mike Smith||50||2922||29||14||109||2.24||1501||1392||.927||4|
What else there to say that hasn't been said already. If Smith is not the NHL player of the month in February then someone needs to have their head examined in the league office. The Yotes starting netminder has won his last 11 starts. Let's hope his amps have knobs that go to 12.
|2011 - Miikka Kiprusoff||55||3210||27||19||126||2.36||1585||1459||.921||4|
The Calgary goalie gave up three goals on 24 shots in his last start against the Blues on Monday night. For the Flames to have any chance at making the playoffs they need Kipper to stand on his head most nights. A tall order for any goalie, but the Fin has shown the ability to do so in the past. One other note - He's played poorly in his recent starts against Phoenix.
Phoenix Coyotes Injuries
Calgary Flames Injuries
For more information on the Flames, head over to Matchsticks and Gasoline.