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Arizona Coyotes begin Canadian voyage against the Flames

The Arizona Coyotes travel through the Great White North for their first Western Canadian road trip of the season. First stop: Alberta to take on the Calgary Flames.

Bruce Bennett

The Arizona Coyotes start their trip through Western Canada with a visit to Alberta to take on the Calgary Flames. For those who enjoy excellent offensive defensemen, this may be the game to watch. Three of the top ten defenseman in terms of scoring will be in this game.

Arizona Coyotes (6-8-1) Calgary Flames (9-6-2)
Points 13 (6th Pacific) 20 (4th Pacific)
Goals per game 2.4 (25th) 2.9 (8th)
Goals allowed per game 3.3 (27th) 2.6 (13th)
Power play percentage 18.0 (18th) 22.2 (8th)
Penalty kill percentage 74.5 (27th) 76.6 (25th)
5v5 Fenwick For% 48.5 (23rd) 45.0 (28th)
PDO 0.971 (28th) 1.022 (3rd)

View from Arizona

The Coyotes suffered as devastating a defeat as you could have in their previous tilt; a short-handed goal allowed in the final minutes to avoid overtime gave the Dallas Stars the 4-3 victory. Mikkel Boedker found the back of the net for the first time since his torrid start and Connor Murphy put in his best effort of the season thus far with two points on the night.

But that final goal muddied what had been a solid all-around performance by the Coyotes. The sudden disappearance of the power play is concerning (zero goals on six chances), but Arizona finally seems to be producing at even strength. That was not the case earlier in the season.

View from Calgary

Few teams in the league have been as surprising early in the season as the Calgary Flames. Former Coyotes general manager Brad Treliving started his tenure with several key acquisitions, including goaltender Jonas Hillerand veteran defenseman Deryk Engelland. And it has paid dividends. Until their Monday loss to Carolina, the Flames were among the league's best in terms of points.

A lot of that is the play of Hiller, but also the play of their blue line. Mark Giordano and TJ Brodie might be the league's most dominant pairing so far this season. They are first and second on the team, and first and third in the league among defenseman in scoring respectively entering Thursday.

Keys to the Game

Possession - Calgary's blueline just hasn't missed that much this season. Keeping the puck away from them may be vital in this game.

Power Play - After starting the season 11 of 43 (25.6%) on the man advantage, Arizona has been putrid in their last four games. They have gone 0-for-18 over that span. Yuck. A resurgence would go a long way in this game and beyond.

Have the better goaltender - Mike Smith has been pretty good lately, but Hiller has been good all year. Few things can beat a goalie who is on his A-game.

Who's Hot

Mark Giordano has not been of this Earth the past couple weeks. He enters the game on a seven-game point streak, with ten points in five games in the month of November.

For the Coyotes, there has been very little to cheer about offensively. But, Martin Hanzal has quietly been a consistent producer. He has eight points in 12 games and has been stellar in the faceoff dot. His 62.1 draw percentage is third in league among those with at least 150 attempts, including a 15-5 effort Tuesday against the Stars.

Injury Report

Calgary has their fair share of injuries in the early going: Sven Baertschi is questionable for the game due to illness, Mason Raymond Is on injured reserved due to a shoulder injury, Matt Stajan is out until mid-December with a knee injury, Mikael Backlund is on injured reserve with an abdominal injury, and 2014 first round draft pick Sam Bennett will undergo shoulder surgery and is expected to miss four-to-six months.

Arizona's David Moss has resumed skating, but is still on injured reserve and is unlikely to suit up.

Puck Drop

Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00PM at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta. Those unable to attend the game for whatever reason can view it on Fox Sports Arizona or hear it on 98.7FM.