Flames Hot on the Tail of Coyotes

Game Preview #72

This is not the back breaker game for the Flames, not in my opinion anyway. While a point or two will help, this isn’t the season sealer.

In the playoff race the Flames have one important advantage over all other teams. They have the easiest schedule of all the teams in the playoff hunt. It is the optimism of anticipating wins in those games against the bottom of the Conference AND the impending cannibalization of points that has to occur between the competition which makes this game important, but not a back breaker.

The Flames have not done well against the Yotes all year. They have lost all three of the previous matches in regular time. The fact is that some teams have simply had the Flames number this year and the Yotes are one of them.

While the Flames do not hold games in hand, the schedule has other teams in the hunt negating the games in hand by definition of playing each other. Someone in direct competition for a playoff spot must lose the upcoming games ahead.

I am tempted to call the Wild out at this point and see the competition as strictly between the Stars, Yotes, Flames, Ducks and Preds. The Wild may play the role of huge spoiler so I am not done watching them. Essentially 5 teams in the hunt for 3 spots and the Flames are very much in the thick of it.  But we are entering the part of the season now where you watch the results from other teams.

If the Flames lose tonight they will be a couple more losses away from being unable to unilaterally win their way into the playoffs. They will need to turn to other teams for help. A win tonight against the Coyotes keeps them in control.  

 

The Stat Rack

Flames

Rank

 

Rank

Coyotes

18.1%

12th  

PP%

23rd   

16.1%

81.8%

16th

PK%

27th

78%

2.78

16th

GA

17th  

2.80

2.90

7th

GF

9th

2.83

48.3%

24th

FO%

8th  

51.1 %

 

Number Crunch

The numbers do not really explain why the Coyotes have had such success against the Flames his year. GA and GF are close but the Yotes have a bottom ranked PK and PP but they have still turned out the wins. The answer is a away from this mini-stat pack. The Yotes trap variation has stifled even the new and improved Flames offense of 2011. 

Alive in the Last Five

Flames

Curtis Glencross 2G 3A (even) in his last 5GP

Coyotes

Shane Doan 3G 3A +6 in his last 5GP

Ray Whitney 2G 4A +4 in his last 5GP

 

Anticipated Roster (subject to change by game time)

The Flames

The Coyotes

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bourque

Tanguay

Iginla

Korpikoski

Belanger

Doan

Glencross

Stajan

Jackman

Whitney

Ebbet

Vbrata

Modin

Backlund

Hagman

Boedker

Turris

MacLean

Kostopoulos

Bouma

Carson

Pyatt

Fiddler

Stempniak

 

 

 

 

 

 

Regehr

Bouwmeester

 

Yandle

Morris

 

Giordano

Sarich

 

Ekman-Larrson

Aucion

 

Staios

Babchuk

 

Schlemko

Rozsival

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kiprusoff

Karlsson

 

Bryzgalov

LaBarbera

 

 

Anticipated Game Style

Phoenix, no matter who they play, always has a similar style game. It is a trap variation, slow, boring to watch but it gets them the points.  The early goals are key because if they get the lead I dread the result. They are one of the best at falling into tight formation and no one protects the house in front Bryzgalov better, plus with him as the last line of defense you have a wall to face even if you get by the quick sand moat the Yotes put in place to surround him.

The Flames cannot enter the third period down a goal, if they do it will not look good. Again even a single point out of this game would be huge for the Flames. 

 

One on One

Alex Tanguay vs Ilya Bryzgalov

Tanguay’s ability to successfully feed passes to snipers to beat Bryzgalov will be the key to the game. Bryzgalov stoned the Flames in the last game with a shut-out. He won’t be beaten if he can see the shot or get in position, so the quick passes to get the puck to a sniper before he can move into position East-West will be how the Flames score and beat him, not withstanding the deflection or greasy goal. 

The Magic 8-Ball

The Yotes have had the Flames number all year and in all three games I have not liked the way the Flames have played them. The Yotes have been a strong anti-thesis to smother the Flames offense all season.

Having said that I expect the Flames to throw their best game at the Yotes tonight, not only to make up for the shut-out last game but because this is crunch time.

Look for a couple early Flames goals, as I said if they go into the third tied or down a goal it is looking grim…

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