The last time the Calgary Flames won at home, Santa Claus hadn’t even been to town. Another loss tonight versus the visiting Coyotes and it’ll be winless since Dec. 23, when they beat the Blues 4-3 in a shootout. Since then, the NHL’s coldest team has dropped seven straight at the Saddledome, all in regulation, while getting outscored by a margin of — get this — 22 to 4.
Suffice to say, the Flames’ pleasantly surprising start is a distant memory now.
For Phoenix, tonight is a prime opportunity to collect a pair of much-needed points.
“I haven’t even thought about [Calgary’s struggles],” coach Dave Tippett said, per NHL.com. “We’re concerned with what we’re doing. We feel like we’ve played better the last three or four games. Our game has been pretty good, but that being said, we’ve only won two of the last four, so we’re concerned about making sure we bring our game to the best of our ability and we’ll see what happens there.”
The Coyotes can’t afford to let too many winnable opportunities get past them. Not when they sit four points back of Minnesota for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
The Minnesota Wild are in a funk right now.
They’re 3-10-3 in their last 16 games, three points back of the final wild card spot in the Western Conference and just put key blueliner Jonas Brodin on IR with a broken foot.
So, clearly, the team and head coach Mike Yeo are hoping for better times ahead, and Yeo hopes they begin tonight when the Wild kick off a three-game homestand with a date against Central Division rivals Dallas.
It’s interesting that Yeo’s addressing the Xcel faithful, while also acknowledging fans are irked by the team’s recent play. The timing of these remarks comes with the Wild boasting a good record at home (14-8-3) but having really struggled on the road — Minnesota has just nine away wins this year, the fewest among all Central teams.
Of course, there could be other reasons Yeo’s trying to get fans pumped for the upcoming home swing.
The next three games at Xcel are of the measuring stick variety. Dallas currently sits third overall in the NHL and boasts the league’s highest scoring offense (the Stars have also beat the Wild three out of four times this season already).
After the Dallas game, there’s another big one — the NHL’s top team, Washington, comes to town on Thursday.
After the Caps game, Boston — 7-2-1 in its last 10 — takes on the Wild in a Saturday matinee.
On a scale of 1 to 10, Bill Foley is “9.5” confident that the NHL will grant him an expansion team for Las Vegas.
That was the main takeaway from an interview Foley did with KSNV NBC in Las Vegas.
At the same time, despite his high level of confidence, Foley would appreciate an answer sooner rather than later — especially if the team is to start playing in 2017-18.
” I don’t want to give the league too much time,” he said, smiling. “They’re doing their job, they’re doing their process and so on. We would really like to have the word by June.”
Foley was asked what he believed to be the biggest “concern” the NHL had about expansion. He replied that it was a matter of whether the league expanded by one team or two (Quebec City has also applied for a franchise), but also the expansion draft.
“Who’s available in the draft? Are players with no-trade clauses…are they going to be part of the draft or not part of the draft?” Foley wondered. “So the owners and the league have a lot of things to do and to figure out.”
Full video of the interview can be found here.
Related: Bettman rejects notion that the NHL is waiting for Seattle
The Florida Panthers have had no problem giving Roberto Luongo the odd night off this season. That’s because Al Montoya has been one of the best backups in the league.
Montoya (8-2-1, .931) will get the call tonight in Detroit, with Luongo (23-13-5, .930) expected to start tomorrow in Buffalo.
The Panthers have the highest team save percentage in the NHL, at .926 (which includes empty-net goals).
“They both give us a chance to win every night,” Panthers d-man Brian Campbell told the Miami Herald recently. “Both make huge saves for us at times. You need consistent saves every night and they both bring it. Montoya gets put into a tough spot a lot of times and nothing seems to change.”
Not good news for the St. Louis Blues — the club announced this morning that defenseman Alex Pietrangelo has been placed on injured reserve with a right-knee injury. He’ll be re-evaluated in three weeks.
Pietrangelo suffered the injury Saturday in a knee-on-knee collision with Minnesota’s Charlie Coyle.
Based on the timeline provided, the Blues will be without their leader in average ice time (26:40) until at least the end of the month. St. Louis plays 10 times between now and Feb. 29, which also happens to be the trade deadline.
The big question, of course, is whether Pietrangelo will be ready to go upon re-evaluation.
The first day of the playoffs is April 13.
Related: Armstrong wants Blues to get healthy before any trades are made