After stopping their four game slide Tuesday evening against the undermanned Avalanche, the Flames are back at it tonight in Glendale looking to start a steak of a more positive nature. Some off-ice issues cropped up yesterday when the news that Brett Sutter was arrested on suspicion of assault leaving a bar early Thursday morning, so the team will have to work to overcome the distractions posed by that. The organization has released no official comment and Sutter was practicing with the team this morning, but will not play.
The Coyotes are a team that were very good last season, but likely also had more than a few bounces go their way. While their underlying stats continue to place them amongst the best in the league, the results haven't necessarily been there for the 'Yotes, who are currently sitting at a dead even 5-5-5 through fifteen games. Phoenix ranks 23rd in goals for a 2.47/game; at home. they've scored just over two and have a goal differential of -5 through seven games. Unfortunately for the Flames, they've scored the majority of their 37 goals in the third period of games, where Calgary has scored the second-least amount of theirs. The Coyotes have allowed 20 of their 45 goals against in the second period, which could present an opportunity for the Flames, who have struggled in the middle frame so far this season.
Despite starting the season off strong when shorthanded, the Flames have slipped recently; they allowed two PPG against the Avs and now find themselves right in the middle of the pack, ranked 14th in the league on the PK. The Coyotes are ranked 22nd, operating at 79.4% and 86.2% efficiency at home. Both teams have sunk to the league's bottom ten with the extra man, however, so PK struggles may not be an issue in this game.
There are a few lineup changes of note for the Flames, as Craig Conroy will sit tonight in favour of Stefan Meyer, and Brendan Morrison moves up to take Matt Stajan's spot on between Iginla and Tanguay after essentially being benched in Denver. An odd choice, but Stajan hasn't been much of a difference maker recently despite avoiding the tough match-ups on most occasions, and a demotion to the bottom six could potentially serve as a wake-up call for him. The trio of Hagman-Backlund-Moss will stick together for another game after an impressive outing against Colorado, while Glencross remains on the second line. Ian White also moves back up to play with Regehr.
Lines and Pairings:
Ilya Bryzgalov will start for the Coyotes, who will be without captain Shane Doan tonight.
Enjoy the game everyone, and lament the inevitable wrath of Flames-killer Wojtek Wolski in the comments. Go Flames.