GLENDALE, AZ -- As expected, the Phoenix Coyotes are right in the thick of a Stanley Cup Playoff race in the Western Conference.
Heading into an idle Friday, the Coyotes were ninth with 73 points and trailed the eighth place Dallas Stars by just one. The Vancouver Canucks have slumped to 10th place and trail Phoenix by three points. With points at a premium, Saturday’s matchup against the Calgary Flames becomes all the more important.
Under coach Dave Tippett, the Coyotes have gotten the best of the Flames in Phoenix. Under his helm, they’ve won eight of nine meetings at the Jobing.com Arena, outscoring Calgary 31-14 in that stretch. With his team in the thick of a playoff chase, he’ll hope his club can maintain that mark at the continued expense of the Flames.
This Season: 31-25-11, 73 points (9th in West)
Last Season: 21-18-9, 51 points (10th in West)
Notable Injuries: Forward Martin Erat (upper body) is out. So are defenseman David Schlemko (lower body) and forward Martin Hanzal (lower body).
Flames Season Series Record: 1-2-0
Though he was held pointless against the Boston Bruins on Thursday, Vrbata remains one of the NHL’s hottest snipers. The 32-year-old has four goals in his past five contests and has amassed six points over the same span. He paces the Coyotes with 46 points, too.
Though he brings many elements of his game on a nightly basis, production hasn’t been one of them of late for Moss. The former Flames forward is currently mired in a 13-game point drought, a stint that followed a stretch of four points in four games in late January. In all, Moss has six goals and 19 points in 67 games this season.
THREE PLAYERS TO WATCH
Doan became just the 54th player in NHL history and only the 10th with one franchise to play at least 1300 games in Thursday’s 2-1 loss to the Bruins. The 37-year-old has remained productive, too. Doan has 18 goals and 38 points in 54 games this season and could find the 20-goal plateau this season for the 12th time in his career.
Gormley played his first career NHL game in Monday’s 4-3 shootout win over the Tampa Bay Lightning and is set to square off in his third against Calgary. The 22-year-old former first round pick had a standout junior career with the Moncton Wildcats and Shawinigan Cataractes and represented Canada at the World Juniors in 2012.
Smith, who was Canada’s third goaltender at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, has been impressive of late. He’s won four of his past six starts and hasn’t allowed more than two even strength goals against in that span. Overall, he’s 24-20-10 this season with a 2.67 goals against average and .914 save percentage.