Preview: Coyotes at Flames, 6:30 p.m., FOX Sports Arizona Plus
CALGARY, Alberta — The Calgary Flames return from their league-mandated five-day bye period Monday night when they host the Arizona Coyotes at the Scotiabank Saddledome at 7 p.m.
The Flames (28-25-3) entered the break with five wins in six games and find themselves in the hunt for a wild card spot in the Western Conference. They trail the Los Angeles Kings and Nashville Predators by one point each in the battle for the conference’s two wild card spots.
General manager Brad Treviling is waiting to see if his team struggles leading up to the March 1 deadline or continues to compete before he decides his course of action at the deadline.
“In our situation we’re right in the battle,” he said. “I think a lot of what we do is going to be dependent on our play here in the next couple of weeks leading up into the deadline. We’re moving down a couple of parallel paths.
“It almost changes daily.”
There is no such indecision for Coyotes general manager John Chayka. The Coyotes (18-28-7) have been out of the playoff chase since a nine-game losing streak in mid-December.
Arizona’s games leading up to the deadline are being heavily attended by opposing scouts, and the consensus is the player most coveted is center Martin Hanzal, an unrestricted free agent who can fill a tough check role in the playoffs.
Hanzal showcased himself Saturday night at home when he scored twice and held Sidney Crosby in check in Arizona’s 4-3 overtime win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“When you play against the Stanley Cup champions and Sidney Crosby it’s kind of extra motivation, but I was just trying to play as hard as I could,” said Hanzal.
Monday’s game is the first in a three-game trip for the Coyotes — who move on to Edmonton on Tuesday and Los Angeles on Thursday. They are 5-2-1 in their past eight games, and two of the wins came against last season’s Stanley Cup finalists — the Penguins and San Jose Sharks.
“We said for the last month we’ve been better,” Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said after the win over Pittsburgh.
“Tonight we played hard. It was a mucky game, but that’s how we’ve got to play.”
Hanzal’s two goals gave him 12 for the season, boosting him into a share for the team lead with Tobias Rieder. Linemate Radim Vrbata continues to lead the Coyotes in scoring with 36 points.
Sean Monahan leads Calgary with 19 goals, and Mikael Backlund has a team-high 38 points.
This will be the fifth and final meeting of the season between the two teams, and the Coyotes will be looking to avoid getting swept. They’ve been outscored 12-6 in losing the first four. Two of the losses came in overtime.
Rookie Lawson Crouse is expected to miss the game for Arizona due to a lower body injury.