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Flames vs Coyotes - Burnin' the Desert down

After Joni Oreo did amazing things in his first shutout of his career forever ago, the Flames arrived in Arizona somewhere to play a hockey team called the Coyotes.

"do you want mcdonalds, Joni?"
"do you want mcdonalds, Joni?"
Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

After shutting out the Canucks the other night, the Flames were looking to build on some success with Ortio rockin' the crease. Jonas Hiller hasn't exactly been Jonas Hiller lately if you know what I'm saying. With Ramo's injury, it made sense to show off the AHL All-Star and give him some more NHL experience. He's improved so much since last year's stint and it came through again tonight.

First Period -

Nothing really happened at all to start the game until former Oilers forward and brief member of Tampa Bay (to be honest, I think he just sat in the airport) Sam Gagner had a fantastic chance in close on Ortio. Fortunately, with the Flames being asleep to start the game; Joni was awake. The pace of this period was exactly what you dread from a 'Yotes / Flames game. It was tight, around the boards, and full of GRITTY play.

Jiri Hudler would have a great shot and probably the only decent scoring chance for much of the frame. While Arizona who may have elected to blow everything up as of today hemmed the Flames in their own zone at times and used their Dave Tippett play to control the neutral zone. Though, there were a few moments of mention that highlight how important carrying the puck in is with Mikael Backlund's persistence to try to do something.

Beyond that, not much happened and was generated offensively.

Shots: 11-9 in favor of Arizona some how.

Second Period -

Literally minutes into the period, Mikael Backlund scored off a soft goal that was deflected in off of Keith Yandle's skate. The goal is Backlund's fourth since he returned from injury and well this inforgraphic says it all:

Immediately after, it almost felt like Arizona was at it again trying to generate something. The pace of the game opened up a bit more but beyond that the Flames ability to generate chances at 5v5 was nearly non-existent. Hudler had a decent tip on net from a Giordano point-shot; while also drawing a call on Martin Hanzal sending the Flames to the man advantage.

Nothing spectacularly impressive happened on the power play. Zero shots and a few blocked shots, the inability to get into the offensive zone stood out as the biggest flaw in the Flames' game tonight. Despite a Coyotes' second worst penalty kill in the league and a 9th ranked road PP - it was just lacking in confident plays and decisions.

Later on, after a strong shift the Flames would get trapped in their own zone leading to a disappointing scramble and miscommunication on the play. Mikkel Boedker would score to make the game 1-1. Assists from Keith Yandle (23) and Kyle Chipchurra (6) on the Boedker tying goal.

The Arizona push would continue as their fourth line caused some havoc in Calgary's zone forcing Ortio to come up big yet again for the team.

Martin Hanzal would take another penalty sending the Flames back to the man advantage. Nothing substantial happened in a beneficial way for the Flames. A turnover in the Flames zone on the PP would force Ortio yet again to save the day to keep the game 1-1.

Shots: 10-3 in favor of Arizona, 21-12 in the game for Arizona.

Third Period -

Drew Shore, that new guy who was recently acquired for Corban Knight complimented the play early on in the third trying to create something in close with Colborne and Bouma. Colborne would get a solid pass shortly after from Bouma but Mike Smith (who played dress up tonight as a goalie) held firm. After being hemmed in their own zone, the Flames broke out thanks to a smart decision by Bouma. TJ Brodie would pass throw it on net where Monahan was heading, with a trailing Jones who put it in behind Smith to make it 2-1. The entire sequence is a little weird.

The goal was Jones' seventh of the season with assists from Monahan (15) and Brodie (21). You would expect a stronger push back from the Coyotes at this point but it never fully happened. A decent sequence shortly after proved that the Flames had some life in them as a decent sequence of shot attempts all because of Gio.

Reunited, the father and son combo of Johnny Hockey and Jiri Hudler would be sprung on a 2on1 and unfortunately Mike Smith stood firm with the two-pad stack to keep it 2-1. With under five minutes to go in the period, Monahan making a smart decision to come out from behind the net and feed a silently creeping in Gio who roofed it to make it 3-1.

The goal was our captain's 11th of the season with assists to Bouma (8) and Monahan (16) who would add an empty netter to make it 4-1.

Flames win 4-1 and now lead the season series against Arizona 4-0.

Shots: 13-7 for Calgary, 28-25 for Arizona in the game.

Stray Observations -

  • Drew Shore's debut wasn't super flashy but more "okay, he's more noticeable and confident at the NHL level than Corban Knight". He was 50% in the face off circle and played 12:26 in a bottom six role. Not bad. He had two shots on net and looked capable. I'd like to see more of him throughout the season as he's excelled at the AHL level.
  • Backlund is having a surge that hopefully should continue. Two shots tonight, a goal, and 18:26 of ice time; including 1:34 of PP time. His absence was a huge hit to the depth at centre and he's proving himself worthy of as much ice time as possible. The only knock if there is one beyond the turnover on the PP? 44% in the face off world. The Flames are 27th in this area and it does impact things on occasion.
  • Ortio is just phenomenal so far. It's two games in and we need to remember that though I'm very pleased with how much he has improved from last year. His rebound control is better, he is more sound in terms of positioning himself, and he reads the play better. He is making a case for showing that Karri Ramo could be expendable. He rocked a .964 SV% tonight and faced 28 shots.
  • Not a bad game at all from David Jones. Small positives there from a guy who is trying to find a proper role in the team still. With the injury to Glencross, he can be called upon to do more. Hopefully he can live up to that.
  • Speaking of ol' maligned Curtis Glencross. He didn't play the final two periods. He had seven shifts in the first period and left after taking a shot on net in some discomfort. Hopefully he isn't out for too long as he has trade value and he probably has no future with this team anymore.
  • Never break up Hudler, Gaudreau, and Backlund again please.
  • Three shots in the second period was painful to see. That said, shooting 33% in the period is a positive to take away from this. Still, that was painful to watch.
Flame of the Game

I wanted to go with Joni Ortio but I'm going with Sean Monahan for obvious reasons. His offensive game needed to pick up lately at the request of Coach Hartley. He delivered tonight with two assists (primary ones too) and the empty net goal. As Ari covered in her piece the other day, he's ascending and rounding out so well. Beyond much of our expectations and doubts he's proving to be reliable in many situations and it's going to prove crucial to the team long-term having capable two-way forwards like Monahan.  He finished the night with 15:36 TOI and 1:55 of that was on the PP. Included in that were two shots on net, a +3 if you care about that, and an abysmal 33% in the face off circle.

Fancy stat wise and a teaser for tomorrow: 47.22% CF / 42.86% FF. Not his regular calling card but still keeping in mind, he's a sophomore and he's miles ahead of where he was last season. Though Ari will certainly explain the possession side of things tomorrow.

What If...

... we play Ortio one more game and then send him down. There has been chatter of traveling with the three goalies. Dressing Ortio and Hiller for the game on Saturday against San Jose might be a good idea. It gives him another game to show himself off and against a decent team as well. That way win or lose, we see how his progress has been and he gets to go back to Adirondack to keep the Baby Flames rolling.

... we found a way to distribute ice time a little better? Playing Deryk Engelland is basically like playing Russian roulette with a revolve full of bullets and one blank. Then again maybe this should be: "WHAT IF WE MADE A TRADE THAT SOLIDIFIED OUR SECOND AND THIRD PAIRINGS?!"

Let's go with that. There was chatter earlier today of Arizona willingly accepting it's rebuild time and everything must go. Depending on the cost, I'd target a guy like Zbynek Michlaek. 

I tweeted this out earlier today to get some thoughts - no biters or discussion but it's worthy of mentioning how quickly it would help the second pairing. Hell, it might even improve Dennis Wideman's questionably sound decision making at times. Then again, maybe we stay the course and see what happens.

Tomorrow we'll have your regular stats recap and look forward to Saturday's coverage here as well as Fear The Fin, the SBNation's Sharks related site. Oh and if you love laughing, Stace over at Battle of California will have something good for the game too.