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Arizona Coyotes look to win Western Canada with two points in Calgary

The Arizona Coyotes play the Calgary Flames tonight with a chance to take five of six points on their Western Canada road trip.

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

This weekend, the Arizona Coyotes begin a seven game homestand. With a win tonight against the Calgary Flames, Arizona will return home with five of a possible six points against Pacific Division rivals in Western Canada.

Matchup at a Glance

Arizona Coyotes Calgary Flames
Points 42 (2nd Pacific) 40 (4th Pacific)
Goals For 2.82 (7th) 2.64 (T-15th)
Goals Against 3.15 (29th) 3.10 (28th)
Power Play 17.2% (24th) 12.2% (30th)
Penalty Kill 78.6% (24th) 74.5% (30th)
5v5 Corsi For 46.7% (28th) 47.5% (25th)
PDO 101.5 (5th) 99.1 (23rd)

View from Arizona

How much room did three of a possible four points create for the Coyotes in the standings? One measly point, as Arizona's cushion is now two points over Calgary instead of just one.

Yet Arizona has been getting the job done despite the absence of Martin Hanzal from the lineup. They will get their biggest big-man back tonight however, which may help Max Domi and Anthony Duclair, who have combined for only three points over the last five games.

Arizona also has more stability in net than at any other point this season. The starter's job is Louis Domingue's to lose at this point, as he has a .926 save percentage in eight appearances this season. You never hope for injuries, but Domingue is getting a chance to shine in Mike Smith's absence, and so far, so good.

View from Calgary

For more on Calgary, check out Matchsticks and Gasoline

Well look who's charging up the standings. The Calgary Flames are an impressive 11-4-0 since December began, and are now pushing hard for a playoff spot. Karri Ramo has played reasonably well for the Flames all season, with a .913 save percentage and a 2.54 GAA in 28 games. The downside is that the Flames have been largely unable to give him nights off, as Jonas Hiller has a dreadful .862 save percentage and a 3.76 GAA this year.

Calgary's top five scorers are hardly surprising. Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan are two of the league's most exciting young forwards, Mark Giordano and TJ Brodie are getting it done on the top pairing, and Jiri Hudler continues to plug away, although he is well off of the ridiculous 76 point season he posted last year.

Keys to the Game

  • Special Teams - Arizona is better than Calgary in both power play and penalty kill conversion rates. They need to be better in both categories tonight.
  • Shot Differential - Arizona did a good job staying ahead of Vancouver in shot attempts early on, but fell behind towards the end of the game. Arizona can't let Calgary get too out of hand.
  • Control the Close Game - After the disallowed fourth goal versus the Canucks, the Coyotes struggled to hold off Vancouver. If Arizona is stuck in a one goal game versus the Flames, they need to give Louis Domingue less work to do.

Players to Watch

Neither Mikkel Boedker nor Oliver Ekman-Larsson have recorded a point on this road trip, and both were passed over for selection to the Pacific Division team for the 2016 All-Star Game. Tonight might be a good opportunity for both to show why that omission was a mistake.

Tied in assists among Calgary defensemen is Dennis Wideman with 17 on the year. He's not scoring nearly as much as he did last season (a common theme among Calgary players), but he can still move the puck very well.

Injury Report

Mike Smith remains on injured reserve until at least the end of the month. Martin Hanzal has still technically not been activated from the injured reserve list, but should be in time to play in tonight's game. Zbynek Michalek is still considered questionable to play tonight.

Jiri Hudler is expected to miss up to a week since getting injured on Tuesday, while Michael Frolik has been out indefinitely since mid-December.

Puck Drop

Tonight's game begins at 7 PM Arizona time. You can watch the game on Fox Sports Arizona or listen on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.