The Arizona Coyotes have just two home games left this season. After tonight, they'll be down to one.
Arizona welcomes the Calgary Flames to Gila River Arena for the final time This will be their last home matchup against teams from the Pacific Division and the Western Conference.
Matchup at a Glance
|Calgary Flames||Arizona Coyotes|
|Points||68 (5th Pacific)||75 (4th Pacific)|
|Goals For||2.71 (14th)||2.61 (T-16th)|
|Goals Against||3.13 (30th)||2.93 (26th)|
|Power Play||15.8% (27th)||18.3% (16th)|
|Penalty Kill||75.0% (30th)||78.4% (T-26th)|
|5v5 Corsi For||47.8% (T-22nd)||47.1% (28th)|
|PDO||99.4 (T-22nd)||100.2 (T-12th)|
View from Calgary
For the Flames' perspective, check out Matchsticks and Gasoline
Where do the Calgary Flames go from here?
After triumphantly making it to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season, the Flames have officially been eliminated from postseason contention this year. Statistical regression from last season is partially to blame, but it isn't as though the team completely forgot how to play hockey.
If you are looking for one culprit, your search should begin and end with Calgary's goaltending. Karri Ramo is Calgary's best goaltender with a putrid .909 save percentage. Joni Ortio is next with a .902 clip, followed by Jonas Hiller at .883, and ultimately Nicklas Backstrom with a horrid .863. All four netminders have combined for just two shutouts this year; for comparison's sake, Mike Smith and Louis Domingue have two shutouts apiece.
That the goaltending is so bad is a shame given how well Johnny Gaudreau has played all year. With 73 points in 74 games, Gaudreau is almost on a point per game pace. Gaudreau is a bona fide superstar in the NHL, and goes to show that talent can beat size any day of the week.
View from Arizona
Hopefully everyone has taken some extra yoga classes or relaxation aromatherapy after Saturday night's game against the Flyers. Tensions were running high after Radko Gudas attempted to turn Shane Doan's head into an extra sponsorship on the boards, culminating with a Martin Hanzal hit to Claude Giroux on the boards that left Giroux dazed on the ice momentarily.
Yet once the dust settled, it appeared that the league was content to take a "no-harm, no-foul" approach. Neither Hanzal nor Gudas were subjected to supplemental discipline, and it appears that neither Doan nor Giroux are out long-term.
The post-whistle frivolities overshadowed yet another sterling performance from Mike Smith, who has now allowed just six goals in five games since his return from injury. It is still too early to say if we're finally seeing what a healthy Mike Smith is capable of, but early returns are more than positive.
Keys to the Game
1. Keep Drawing Penalties - On average, the Flames give up a power play goal every four chances. Arizona has been particularly good at drawing penalties of late, which needs to continue tonight.
2. Second Unit Defensive Scoring - Oliver Ekman-Larsson is the team's quarterback on defense, but its next best option - Michael Stone - may not be available for the rest of the season. Whether it's Kevin Connauton or Connor Murphy, someone else needs to give Arizona a boost on the blue-line.
3. Use Your Speed - In the third period, the Flyers struggled to keep up with the speed of Max Domi and Anthony Duclair. While Calgary has some speedy guys up front, their defense is not particularly fleet of foot. Arizona should use that to their advantage.
Players to Watch
Dougie Hamilton's brother, Freddie Hamilton, has a goal and an assist in his first four games with the Calgary Flames this season. He could be a nice depth option at center for Calgary going forward.
Max Domi has 18 goals this season, while Anthony Duclair has 17. They are the next closest candidates to join Shane Doan and Oliver Ekman-Larsson on the 20 goal plateau on Arizona's roster.
Karri Ramo and Dennis Wideman are not expected back for the rest of the season, while Ladislav Smid may get shut down after first getting placed on injured reserve in mid-February. Josh Jooris is considered questionable for tonight's game.
Anders Lindback and Joe Vitale are done for the rest of the season with injuries, while Jarred Tinordi will finish the year suspended. Nicklas Grossmann remains questionable for tonight's game, while Michael Stone's status is unknown after his leg was caught at an awkward angle under Michael Raffl's body on Saturday against Philadelphia. Shane Doan is considered probable for tonight's game.
Tonight's game begins at 7 PM Arizona time. You can watch the game on Fox Sports Arizona or listen on ESPN 620 AM.