Game Preview: Flames vs Minnesota Wild

CALGARY FLAMES (16-21-4 36 points) vs. MINNESOTA WILD (22-16-3 47 points) GAME 42

 

PREVIEW:

The Flames look to extend their winning streak to a season high three games tonight when they host the Minnesota Wild to kick-off their last homestand of the season. The Wild come into Calgary struggling to hold onto a playoff spot, going 3-6-1 in their past ten games. The Wild currently sit 7th in the West with 47 points but are tied with the eight place Detroit Red Wings and sit just two points ahead of the ninth place Dallas Stars.

After reeling off two victories on the weekend, the Flames continue to adjust their line-up with more young faces. Ben Hanowski, who was acquired from Pittsburgh in the Jarome Iginla deal, will make his NHL debut tonight after signing a contract with the Flames on Friday.

Hanowski, who finished up his senior year with St. Cloud State after being eliminated in the frozen four, last week, will start on a line alongside Roman Horak and Mike Cammalleri.

The Wild will welcome the return of centerman Matt Cullen to the line-up, who, somewhat coincidently, has missed the Wild’s last six games (1-5-1).

Everything was going right for the Wild when Cullen was in the line-up and no one missed him more than Devin Setoguchi, who was red-hot before Cullen’s injury.

Joey MacDonald will get his third consecutive start for the Flames, while the Wild will counter with Nicklas Backstrom.

 

PROJECTED LINES:

Flames:                                                                        Wild:

1- CAMMALLERI-HORAK-HANOWSKI                      1- PARISE-KOIVU-POMINVILLE

2- BAERTSCHI-BACKLUND-STEMPNIAK                 2- SETOGUCHI-CULLEN-ZUCKER

3- GLENCROSS-REINHART-JACKMAN                    3- CLUTTERBUCK-MITCHELL-RUPP

4- HUDLER-BEGIN-CERVENKA                                4- BOUCHARD-BRODZIAK-COYLE

 

1- WIDEMAN-GIORDANO                                          1- SUTER-BRODIN

2- BRODIE-SARICH                                                    2- SPURGEON-CLARK   

3- BUTLER-CARSON                                                  3- STONER-GILBERT

 

1- MacDONALD                                                          1- BACKSTROM

2- KIPRUSOFF                                                            2- KUEMPER

 

EXTRA- BABCHUK                                                     EXTRA- PROSSER, GRANLUND, FALK

 

INJURIES:

Flames: LW- Alex Tanguay (Knee- Done for the season), C- Matt Stajan (Upper Body- Day-to-Day), RW- Brian McGrattan (Upper Body- Day-to-Day), D- Derek Smith (Upper Body- IR), C- Paul Byron (Broken Hand- IR)

Wild: C- Zenon Konopka (Lower Body- Day-to-Day), LW- Dany Heatley (Shoulder Surgery- Out Indefinitely), G- Josh Harding (Illness- IR)

 

STATS:

Flames

PLAYER

GP

G

A

PTS

+/-

L. Stempniak

41

8

20

28

2

M. Cammalleri

38

12

15

27

-15

A. Tanguay

40

11

16

27

-13

C. Glencross

37

15

10

25

-8

J. Hudler

36

8

16

24

-11

 

Wild

PLAYER

GP

G

A

PTS

+/-

Z. Parise

41

15

18

33

7

M. Koivu

41

9

24

33

6

R. Suter

41

4

26

30

E

J. Pominville

42

12

17

29

E

M. Cullen

35

7

18

25

6

 

PP-

Flames: 19.9% (11th)

Wild: 18.1% (16th)

PK-

Flames: 79.8% (21st)

Wild: 83.1% (11th)

 

WESTERN CONFERENCE STANDINGS:

 

GP

W

L

OTL

PTS

1. Y- CHICAGO

41

32

5

4

68

2. X- ANAHEIM

42

27

10

5

59

3. VANCOUVER

41

23

12

6

52

4. LOS ANGELES

42

24

14

4

52

5. SAN JOSE

41

21

13

7

49

6. ST. LOUIS

41

23

16

2

48

7. MINNESOTA

41

22

16

3

47

8. DETROIT

42

20

15

7

47

 

9. DALLAS

41

21

17

3

45

10. COLUMBUS

42

19

16

7

45

11. PHOENIX

41

18

16

7

43

12. EDMONTON

41

16

18

7

39

13. NASHVILLE

43

15

20

8

38

14. CALGARY

41

16

21

4

36

15. COLORADO

42

14

22

6

34

 

MY TAKE:

As much as I have wanted the Flames to lose games, I have to admit it has been refreshing to watch young guys in the line-up, receiving significant playing time.

It was great to see, as weak as a goal as it was, Sven Baertschi get his first goal of the season on Saturday against the Oilers and for the Flames to rebound against their provincial rivals after that embarrassing 8-2 loss in their last meeting, while putting a dagger in the Oilers playoff hopes.

I have also been very impressed with the play of Roman Horak. He has been great at both ends of the ice and has played well alongside Cammalleri. With the Flames struggles down the middle this season, you have to wonder why Horak did not stick with the club from the beginning of the season.

With Baertschi, Horak and Max Reinhart all playing well, the Flames will welcome another young face to the line-up tonight with Ben Hanowski making his NHL debut.

I hope Hanowski comes in and shows well in front of the home fans but I hope the Flames have not rushed him into the spotlight too soon.

I understand he is a more mature than most prospects, having finished his senior year at St. Cloud but the pressure surrounding him will be high from Flames fans since he was the big name coming back in return for Jarome Iginla.

I think the Flames are trying to showcase Hanowski to prove people wrong about not getting enough in return for Iginla. I think it puts even more pressure on Hanowski, especially making his debut on home-ice, and I just hope he can deal with it and play good hockey.

Hanowski does not have to come out and set the world on fire but he has to at least show he has potential to one day make an impact playing at the NHL level.

Although I have my doubts about throwing Hanowski into the line-up right away, I will never argue with giving a young guy a chance, especially with the state the Flames are in right now.

The Flames have played good hockey of late, regardless of the wins and losses, and it will be interesting to see how they finish the season, with their line-up continuing to get younger, and playing some of the top teams in the West.

 

 

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