Gaudreau-less Calgary tries to move forward
Calgary had ample reason to celebrate on Tuesday night. Not only did star forward Johnny Gaudreau pot his fifth goal of the season, netminder Chad Johnson stopped all 27 shots he faced in the team’s 1-0 triumph vs. Minnesota.
Less than 24 hours later, a much more somber tone pervades throughout the locker room. The Flames learned this morning that Gaudreau will require surgery on a fractured finger. He exited last night’s contest late in the third period.
Obviously, the 23-year-old can’t contribute to club’s cause shortly. Calgary hosts Arizona at 10 p.m. ET in a bout between two Western Conference bottom-feeders. Online sports book Bovada.lv gives the Flames odds of -115 to prevail at Scotiabank Saddledome. Dave Tippett’s troops, on the other hand, represent -105 underdogs.
Mired in last place in the Pacific Division, the Coyotes are back in action for the first time since Nov. 12. While Radim Vrbata boasts a team-high six goals, the rest of the offense continues to sag. On the bright side, veteran Martin Hanzal and No. 1 goalie Mike Smith should return from injured reserve during the current road trip.
In any event, we’re referring to a pair of floundering outfits at the moment. Arizona certainly boasts the fresher legs, but will Calgary’s overall speed advantage win out? We expect a few defensive-lone lapses either way.
WEDNESDAY NHL FREE PICK: COYOTES/FLAMES OVER 5.5 GOALS