With the Coyotes sitting idle for the next four days, enjoying a rare reprieve in what’s been a dizzying schedule to this point, the template they set themselves up with for a week of practice doesn’t seem to need much tweaking. The Coyotes finished the first third of this unique NHL season Monday with a 4-0 win over the Calgary Flames in front of 17,208 at Jobing.com Arena. Goalie Mike Smith dealt his third shutout of the season — this one after making 30 saves. “I thought this was probably our best game of the year,” Smith said. The Coyotes owned a playoff spot after Monday’s performance, placing sixth in the Western Conference, but it’s unlikely they maintain that spot when they return to the ice Saturday in Edmonton for the start of a three-game western Canada trek. They’ll watch 11 conference games between now and their next game, and with 33 points up for grabs, a plummet in the standings is expected. That’s why this two-game home set was important. With wing Radim Vrbata (lower-body injury) unable to play after failing a test run at the morning skate, coach Dave Tippett shuffled his bottom three lines. Winger Raffi Torres earned a promotion, working alongside center Boyd Gordon and winger Dave Moss, who was encountering the Flames for the first time since he left the organization to sign with the Coyotes this past summer as a free agent.
Phoenix Coyotes cruise to win over the Calgary Flames
Arizona Republic | Feb 19