After failing to record a point during their brief two-game road trip, the Arizona Coyotes return home to Gila River Arena to take on the fittingly “red hot” Calgary Flames, who have won four of their last five games. In their first of three December matchups with the Flames, will the faltering ‘Yotes be able to right the ship and notch two points at home?
View From Calgary
For more info on the Calgary Flames check out Matchsticks and Gasoline.
After going 7-2-1 in their last ten games, the Flames are lurking at fourth in the Pacific Division with 30 points. Behind solid goaltending from Chad “Don’t Call Me OchoCinco” Johnson and offensive firepower from Johnny Gaudreau, among others, the Flames find themselves positioned nicely to make a run at the postseason.
The Flames are enjoying recent success, so don’t expect them to take their foot off the gas tonight when they visit Glendale.
View From Arizona
The Arizona Coyotes are still struggling to find their groove this season. After a series of point-earning efforts, the Coyotes gave up eight goals in two games during visits to Columbus and Chicago, and only managed to put the biscuit in the basket once on their own behalf. Mike Smith has looked solid in net, but simply cannot single-handedly will his team to victory on a nightly basis.
As Dave Tippett continues to juggle his lines, desperately searching for an offensive spark, the Coyotes must also eliminate mistakes in their own end to keep the game in reach. A team hard-pressed for goals cannot be forced to play from behind and realistically hope for success.
1. Can the Coyotes play a full 60 tonight? - The Coyotes looked good in the first period Tuesday in Chicago, outshooting and outplaying the Blackhawks despite going down 0-1 on the scoreboard. The rest of the night was a mess, however, and the game quickly slipped away from them as overall quality of play dropped.
2. Will the Flames road success continue? - Calgary boasts a league-best eight wins on the road so far this season. The Coyotes will need to put together a solid effort on both ends of the ice if they want to protect their territory against such a vicious road team.
3. Can the Coyotes best the Flames’ air-tight penalty killing unit? - The Flames have allowed goals in only two of their last 29 penalty killing efforts, which has been a key factor in their recent success. If the Coyotes can somehow solve this riddle, it’ll greatly increase their chances of coming away with two points.
Players to Watch
Calgary - Johnny Gaudreau - The hype for this young stud is very real, and seems to manifest itself to an even greater extent against the Coyotes. In nine career games vs. Arizona, Gaudreau has notched eight points, nearly a point-per-game.
Arizona - Jordan Martinook - In a season characterized by inconsistency, one thing coach Tippett can rely on night in and night out is the quality effort of winger Jordan Martinook. The Coyotes as a whole need to mirror the vigor with which this young man plays the game of hockey if they hope to find any sort of continued success.
Calgary - The Flames continue to be without defenseman Ladislav Smid and centerman Lance Bouma, both of whom are on the team’s injured reserve list.
Arizona - Aside from Brad Richardson’s continued absence, the Coyotes’ roster features no additional injuries.
Tonight’s game starts at 7pm in Arizona. You can watch it on Fox Sports Arizona, Fox Sports Go or listen to it on KTAR News Radio 92.3 FM