Fresh off a win against the Columbus Blue Jackets at home, the Phoenix Coyotes look to get something going against the Calgary Flames, a team that they will play twice in the span of a week. The Flames are coming off a surprising victory of their own against the Dallas Stars last night, but gaining those 2 points may have worn Calgary out for tonight’s game.
The Phoenix Coyotes have not played great the past few games but they have managed to get much needed points. The Coyotes are going to need to play better defensively this game then they have so far, 4 of the 8 games had the Coyotes giving up at least 3 goals. Just as the team looked to be getting healthier, they lost Radim Vrbata in the game against Columbus with a lower body injury. He is currently listed as day to day. After this game, the Coyotes have a 4 day break before they play in Edmonton on Saturday, so they need to not leave anything in the tank.
The Calgary Flames haven’t played great this season, or the past few seasons, and they are currently 12th in the West. They are currently 5-5-3, and they have played better on the road then they have at home with a record of 3-1-1. Calgary averages more goals per game then the Coyotes (3 versus 2.60), but they also average more goals against per game (3.38 versus 2.67.)
Both of these teams are looking for points, the Phoenix Coyotes are currently tied for 8th place with the Detroit Red Wings and the Minnesota Wild while the Flames are currently 3 points away from the top 8. This will be the first meeting between these two teams. Last season the Flames were 2-0-2 against the Yotes.
Five For Winning:
1. Defense: The Coyotes are going to need to play smart, defensive hockey to stop the Calgary offense. This means the little things like limiting turnovers in their own zone, and keeping shots to the outside, things that we know they can do very well, they just need to do them.
2. Shots from everyone: Calgary goaltenders don't have the best save numbers. If the Coyotes keep shooting the puck they may get a few lucky breaks and a few dirty goals.
3. Play physical: Calgary will being coming into this game tired, having played last night in Dallas, while the Coyotes will not only be well rested, they have a break coming up so they don't have to worry about holding back. The Yotes need to check hard and often, and wear out the Calgary team.
4. Special teams: The Phoenix power play unit has been good as of late, and they will be going up against a fairly weak unit who is only killing penalties at a rate of 72.3%. Conversely the Flames power play unit is nothing to sneeze at. They are currently fourth in the NHL with a power play conversion rate of 26.5%, although the Desert Dogs have been good on the kill with a 83.9% successful kill rate.
5. Discipline: The Coyotes took another pointless penalty against the Blue Jackets when they were called for too many men on the ice early in the 2nd period. Although it isn't as bad as well have seen the Yotes, they really need to clear up their game and stop giving other teams those opportunities.
Likely Starting Goalies:
Except for a few lapses since his return, Mike Smith has played well for the Coyotes. In his last 4 games he has a save percentage of .936 and a goals against average of 2.
Joey MacDonald played his first game with the Flames last night with an impressive win against the Dallas Stars, stopping 27 shots in the 4-3 win. As of this writing Mikka Kiprusoff is still listed as injured and Leland Irving was assigned to the AHL. Expect either Kiprusoff to come back tonight and possibly get the start considering MacDonald played last night, or Calgary to bring another player up for the AHL.
Players to Watch:
Martin Hanzal currently leads the Coyotes with 7 goals including 2 in the last games against the Blue Jackets. If Radim Vrbata does sit out the next game though it will likely have an impact on Hanzal's play though.
Cammalleri made a splash since returning from injury with 4 goals in 2 games against the Dallas Stars including the game winner on February 13th, the same game where he notched a hat trick.
Coyotes' Radim Vrbata and Derek Morris are both questionable for the game. David Schlemko and Matthew Lombardi are both currently on the IR list with shoulder injuries, though Dave Tippet said on Sunday Lombardi could be back as soon as tonight's game.