The Phoenix Coyotes' two-game winning streak came to an abrupt halt Monday night against the Maple Leafs in a game where they controlled the flow of play the majority of the time. Now they have to start a new streak in a place where they haven't won since February 2012.
By the Numbers
|Phoenix Coyotes||Calgary Flames|
|Points||55 (5th in Pacific)||39 (6th in Pacific)|
|Goals per game||2.80 (10th)||2.16 (29th)|
|Goals against per game||2.96 (25th)||3.12 (28th)|
|Power play %||19.9 (8th)||13.8 (29th)|
|Penalty kill %||78.3 (26th)||79.8 (23rd)|
Phoenix has been playing better hockey in recent games, going 2-2-0 in the past four and playing well enough to win all of them. They have just been unlucky offensively, which was demonstrated on Monday. In a game where they extended their consecutive games with a power play goal streak to eight and notched their first shorthanded goal of the year, the Coyotes also hit iron multiple times and Radim Vrbata continued his snake bitten ways as his goalless streak has reached 12 games despite accumulating 34 shots in that time.
The Coyotes have thrived against their new division rivals from North of the Border, going 7-1-1 against the Western Canadian teams so far this season. The one blemish on the record is a 4-1 defeat at the hand of the Flames in the Saddledome back in early December. In fact, the Coyotes have lost four straight games in Calgary with the last victory coming on Feb. 23, 2012 during their remarkable 12-0-1 run in that month.
The wheels have begun to fall off in Calgary as the Flames have struggled mightily since Christmas. They are 2-10-1 in their last 13 games and that includes a 6-0 shellacking at the hands of the Coyotes in Glendale on Jan. 7.
The Flames haven't failed to provide talking points on the season though. Between Brian Burke's dismissal of former GM Jay Feaster, his role in selecting the US Olympic team and Saturday's opening face-off fiasco against the Canucks, the Flames have been in the center of hockey discussion for the past month. Too bad it's not for how they have played.
Keys to the Game
Special teams. The Coyotes' power play has been effective in recent days, going 8 for 30 (26.7%) during the power play goal streak. The Flames have allowed a power play goal in each game of their current four-game losing streak with a 61.5% kill rate in that time.
Stay aggressive offensively. The Coyotes are averaging 28 shots per game in their last four games and put 41 attempts on net against the Leafs Monday. Calgary is allowing over 29 shots per game in that same stretch and have been outshot in three of the last four games and tied in the other. The Flames goaltending is anything but solid and the Coyotes need to succeed by volume more than quality.
Capitalize and continue. Phoenix played strong games in losing efforts against the Blues and Leafs this past week, losing thanks in large part to hitting the posts and crossbar too much. Sooner or later, those shots will find net and the Coyotes will win games they deserve. Tonight would be a good time to start.
Players to Watch
|2013 - Mike Ribeiro||12||21||33||-3||28|
Ribeiro scored a power play tally Monday against Toronto but has been struggling recently. He has an assist in only two of his past 18 games, which is far too little for a pass first performer. With Martin Hanzal questionable for the game, Ribeiro's ability to change a game with a single pass needs to step to the forefront.
He did add two helpers in the 6-0 beatdown of the Flames a couple weeks ago, and has 29 points in 33 career games against Calgary.
|2013 - Matt Stajan||7||10||17||-17||38|
Fresh off of signing a four-year, $12.5 million extension to stay in Calgary, the 30-year-old center needs to start playing better to justify the deal. Stajan has just a single season of more than 30 points since joining the Flames and has a single point in the last 14 games. Will he play better with the motivation of a new deal or become just another sunk Calgary cost.
Projected Starting Goaltenders
|2013 - Mike Smith||42||2416||17||14||118||2.86||1284||1169||.910||1|
Even though Tomas Greiss got the start and shutout the Flames the last time these teams met, Smith will step between the pipes tonight. Smith has struggled with the Flames, going 4-3-1 against Calgary as a Coyote.
|2013 - Reto Berra||21||1227||5||14||64||3.13||606||542||.894||0|
The Coyotes only injury is Martin Hanzal, who didn't practiced with the team on Tuesday but made the trip with them. He's questionable for tonight's game, but is expected to return during the Canadian swing.
The Flames will play without Mike Cammalleri, who has been placed on the IR with a concussion, and Curtis Glencross, who is still recovering from a broken ankle. Depth forward Paul Byron left Monday's game against the Sharks early and is questionable for tonight.
The game is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. Arizona time and will be televised on FSAZ+. You can listen to the game on KMVP 860 AM.