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Preview: Calgary Flames vs Arizona Coyotes 12/31/16 (39/82)

Tonight will be the 4th of 5 meetings between these two and if the previous games are any indication this will be a testy one.

Calgary Flames v Arizona Coyotes Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Calgary Flames vs Arizona Coyotes, 8 PM MY, Scotiabank Saddledome, Calgary Alberta
Broadcast Schedule
TV: FAz+, CBC, RSN
Radio: Sportsnet 960

The Flames will ring in the New Year by welcoming the Arizona Coyotes to the Saddledome tonight. This is the 4th meeting between the two with the Flames taking the previous three contests (2 in OT). The Flames and Coyotes have developed a slightly “testy” relationship so far this season. In the 3 games these two have played against each other they’ve racked up 108 penalty minutes, including a 58 minute effort back on December 8th in Glendale (you may remember that as the day Garnet Hathaway broke Max Domi’s face, literally).

The Flames have been up and down lately, having a 2 game winning streak snapped at the hands of the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday night. Mikael Backlund has caught fire lately, tying Sean Monahan for the team lead in goals (10) and has 7 points in his last 3 games. The Flames PK took a hit the other night giving up 2 PP goals after killing a ridiculous 18 straight in their previous 4 games. The Flames, even with a tough 2 point giveaway to Anaheim, still sit at 4th in the Pacific and 7th in the West and are hanging on to a playoff spot.

The Coyotes on the other hand are heading the opposite way. The Desert Puppies have dropped 6 straight and are 2-10-2 in the month of December (2 of those losses at the hands of the Flames) and sit a mere 2 points ahead of the dreadful Avalanche for last place in the Western Conference. Mike Smith, while his record is terrible, is having a good statistical season and appears to be the victim of a bad team in front of him. The Yotes have given up a league worst 116 goals while only scoring 77. Not a winning combination.

The Coyotes have nothing to play for except pride tonight and the Flames are fighting for their playoff lives so expect nothing less than what these games have been so far this season: an absolute brawl. Here’s how the teams match-up:

Calgary Flames Arizona Coyotes
19-17-2 Record 11-20-5
40 Points 27
4th Pacific Division 7th Pacific
7th West Conference 13th West
3-2-0 Last 5 0-5-0
99 Goals For 77
108 Goals Allowed 116
Backlund (10) Goals Vrbata (9)
Gaudreau (25) Points Vrbata (24)
Johnson (.920) Save % Smith (.920)
18.5 (15th) PP % 14.8 (25th)
80.7 (19th) PK % 75.4 (28th)
Starting Goalies (E=Expected, C=Confirmed) Record GAA Save %
Flames: Johnson (E) 18-8-1 2.34 .920
Coyotes: Smith (E) 7-10-4 2.82 .920

Calgary Flames 1 Anaheim Ducks 3

The Flames had a 2 game winning streak snapped at the hands of the rival Anaheim Ducks Thursday night by the score of 3-1. Calgary took the bait from Anaheim and found themselves in the box 6 times, taking bad penalty after bad penalty. One positive for the Flames in this game was Mikael Backlund tallied a point (1G) in his 3rd straight game. Here’s our recap, the highlights, Sam Bennett’s post game comments and the stats from the contest.

Flames Stats vs Ducks 12/29/16
Goals Shots Shots Allowed Hits PIM FOW Giveaways Takeaways PP PK
1 32 25 18 14 30/62 15 10 0/4 4/6

Arizona Coyotes 3 NY Rangers 6

The Coyotes last took to the ice on Thursday and fell to the NY Rangers 6-3. This was Arizona’s 6th straight loss as Mike Smith gave up 5 goals on 31 shots. Ratim Vrbata added to his tema leading point total in the game with an assist, but it wasn’t enough as the Rangers doubled up the Coyotes and sent them further down the Western Conference standings. Five For Howling has the recap and NHL.com has the highlights.

Player To Watch

NHL: Anaheim Ducks at Calgary Flames Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Calgary Flames: Mikael Backlund (C). Once again Backlund gets the player spot light and why not? The Swed centre has 7 points (4G 3A) in his last 3 games and is leading the PK unit and is a forechecking machine. Backlund only has 1 point (a goal in their last meeting) against the Coyotes this season, but as hot as he’s been lately he could add to that total.

NHL: Calgary Flames at Arizona Coyotes Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona Coyotes: Christian Dvorak (C). The Illinois native has 3 points in his last 5 games and had a goal an an assist against the Flames back on December 19th. He’s got 3 points in 3 games against the Flames and is 8th on the Coyotes with 12 points.