Game Preview: Flames vs Minnesota Wild

CALGARY FLAMES (34-26-13 82 points) vs. MINNESOTA WILD (30-32-10 70 points) GAME 75

 

PREVIEW:

Beep… Beep… Beep. The Flames playoff heart is still beating but with their current three game losing streak, the blood flow is slowing down.

The Flames head into Minnesota tonight to face the struggling Wild in a game where a W is a must. This will be the 6th and final meeting between the clubs this season and facing the Wild could be exactly what the Flames need to get back on the playoff track. After losing their first meeting of the season, the Flames have won the last four meetings against the Wild, outscoring them 14-7 in that process. It's another big night in the Western Conference with all six teams sitting in 3rd and 7th to 11th spot are in action tonight. Dallas hosts the Canucks, Colorado visits Phoenix, the Kings host the Blues and the Sharks face the Bruins. A measly three points separate 3rd, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th place.

The Flames have a gigantic hill to climb after another devastating loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night. The Flames continue to just sit 2 point behind the 8th place Los Angeles Kings but having to climb over two teams (the Coyotes and Sharks) and the Kings and Sharks both having a game in hand, the Flames have some work to do. Their long list of injuries continues to shorten with Blair Jones, Lance Bouma and Chris Butler all returning to the line-up tonight. Butler heads back into the Flames top-4 but it’s gain one, lose one scenerio as Cory Sarich suffered an upper body injury on Tuesday and has headed back to Calgary for further evaluation. Tough to see Sarich go down, as I thought he was playing his best hockey of the season. Butler will be once again be paired alongside Jay Bouwmeester, while Jones will centre the Flames 3rd line and Bouma will join Tim Jackman and Tom Kostopoulos on the Flames 4th line.

The struggling Wild are looking to close the season on a high as they will also get a healthy body back in the form of number one centre, Mikko Koivu. Koivu has missed the past 15 games and 23 of 27 due to injury. The Wild, who of lost 19 of those 27 games Koivu missed, will rely heavily on Koivu for the rest of the year to set the tone for next season. Slipping to 27th place in league standings, the Wild should get a top-5 pick at this June’s draft and have a bright future with highly touted prospects, Mikael Granlund, Jonas Brodin and Charlie Coyle all well on their way to the NHL.

I’m ready to make the call to the fat lady on the Flames playoff hopes and with a loss to the Wild tonight, she will be on speed dial. I didn’t mind the Flames play against the Avalanche on Tuesday night, but the loss was a dagger in the heart. I thought the line of Jarome Iginla, Matt Stajan and Alex Tanguay were the Flames best all night but where they lacked was support and depth after that. That issue could be solved today with Jones and Bouma back in the line-up but I question the play of Olli Jokinen. Jokinen is scoreless in his last 5 and has just 7 points in 11 games (3 coming against WPG) this month to go along with a plus/minus rating of -5. Consistency and performing during the most important times has always hampered Jokinen and with talk of him possibly getting 5+ million in the off-season is mind boggling to me. It’s obviously more than just Jokinen’s fault but I think his play sums up the Flames play the last three seasons and it's time it changed. I expect a win tonight in Minnesota and all they can do is go from there as all 6 teams in the West cluster could get points tonight. Let’s hope the playoff heart still has a heartbeat at 9 pm tonight.

 

PROJECTED LINES:

Flames:                                                                        Wild:

1- TANGUAY-STAJAN-IGINLA                                     1- HEATLEY-KOIVU-SETOGUCHI

2- GLENCROSS-JOKINEN-MOSS                              2- CLUTTERBUCK-CULLEN-CHRISTENSEN

3- COMEAU-JONES-STEMPNIAK                              3- POWE-BRODZIAK-JOHNSON

4- BOUMA-KOSTOPOULOS-JACKMAN                     4- VEILLEUX-PETERS-ORTMEYER

 

1- BOUWMEESTER-BUTLER                                      1- SCANDELLA-SPURGEON

2- GIORDANO-HANNAN                                              2- KAMPFER-GILBERT

3- BABCHUK-SMITH                                                    3- PROSSER-STONER

 

1- KIPRUSOFF                                                              1- HARDING

2- KARLSSON                                                               2- HACKETT

 

EXTRA- HORAK                                                            EXTRA- FOSTER, KASSIAN

 

INJURIES:

Flames: D- Cory Sarich (Upper Body- Day-to-Day), D- T.J Brodie (Upper Body- Day-to-Day), C- Mike Cammalleri (Upper Body- Day-to-Day), C- Mikael Backlund (Upper Body- IR)

Wild: D- Justin Falk (Leg- Out Indefinitely), LW- Pierre-Marc Bouchard (Concussion- IR), LW Guillaume Latendresse (Concussion- IR), D- Mike Lundin (Lower Body- IR)

 

STATS:

Flames

PLAYER

GP

G

A

PTS

+/-

J. Iginla

74

31

31

62

-3

O. Jokinen

74

21

37

58

-3

A. Tanguay

58

12

36

48

10

C Glencross

59

25

20

45

-5

M. Cammalleri

59

15

18

33

-10

 

Wild

PLAYER

GP

G

A

PTS

+/-

D. Heatley

72

20

26

46

3

K. Brodziak

72

19

20

39

-16

M. Koivu

45

10

27

37

10

M. Cullen

71

14

20

34

-10

D. Setoguchi

59

18

13

31

-15

 

PP-

Flames: 17.2% (15th)

Wild: 15.0% (25th)

PK-

Flames: 83.6% (9th)

Wild: 82.9% (13th)

 

WESTERN CONFERENCE STANDINGS:

 

GP

W

L

OTL

PTS

1. X- ST. LOUIS

74

46

20

8

100

2. VANCOUVER

73

43

21

9

95

3. DALLAS

73

40

28

5

85

4. DETROIT

74

44

25

5

93

5. NASHVILLE

73

42

23

8

92

6. CHICAGO

75

42

25

8

92

7. COLORADO

75

40

30

5

85

8. L.A

73

36

25

12

84

 

9. PHOENIX

74

36

26

12

84

10. SAN JOSE

73

36

27

10

82

11. CALGARY

74

34

26

14

82

12. ANAHEIM

75

32

32

11

75

13. MINNESOTA

72

30

32

10

70

14. EDMONTON

73

29

36

8

66

15. COLUMBUS

73

23

43

7

53

 

DID YOU KNOW?

  • Last ten games: Flames 5-2-4, Wild 2-7-1
  • Matt Stajan continued to be the Flames hottest player with the Flames only marker Tuesday night. Stajan has five goals and eight points in his last eight games.
  • Jarome Iginla has 0 points during the Flames current 3 game losing streak, showing how important the Flames top players are.
  • Extra time (OT & SO) hasn’t been nice to the Flames this season with a 5-14 record. Winning in regulation is even more important to the Flames at this time of the year as they simply can’t afford 3-point games.
  • The Flames have lost a total of 357 man games to injury, while using 39 players.
  • The Wild have lost a total of 322 man games to injury, while using 44 players.
  • Erik Christensen has fit in nicely with the Wild since being acquired from the New York Rangers. Christensen has helped fill the offensive hole left by Captain Mikko Koivu with 4 goals in his past 4 games.
  • Dany Heatley’s first season in Minnesota hasn’t lived up to like hoped. Heatley has just 1 goal in his last 16 games and no points in his last 8.

 

GAME DAY QUOTE:

"Before the trip, we kind of targeted this game as hopefully being the game I can return. Unfortunately, with Cory going down, I kind of need to return… But at the same time, this is the game I wanted to be ready for and I feel like I am ready for it."

– Flames Chris Butler who will return after missing 14 games with a lower body injury.

 

 

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