Preview: Flames vs. Wild
FLAMES (31-25-12) at WILD (29-29-10)
TV: SNET-W (HD),FS-N (HD)
Last 10: Calgary 4-3-3; Minnesota 4-5-1.
Season Series: The Flames have won the past three meetings between the two teams and three of four this season. Minnesota had won four in a row against Calgary before that.
Big Story: Calgary will try to continue its push for one of the final playoff spots, while Minnesota tries to climb back into the fringes of the postseason race.
Flames: Four straight losses at the end of February and losing Mike Cammalleri to an injury had the Flames reeling, but Calgary has rebounded in March and remains within striking distance of the eighth spot in the West. The Flames are 3-1-1 in their past five, including a pair of victories at home this week against Montreal and Winnipeg.
The Flames are missing a bunch of bodies up front, but offense has not been a problem. Calgary has scored five goals in each of the past two games, and the Flames had four in the other victory at the start of the month.
Wild: It was an ignominious anniversary Saturday for Minnesota. The Wild won at Phoenix on Dec. 10 and moved to an NHL-best 20-7-3 to start the season. New coach Mike Yeo was an easy choice as the Jack Adams Award winner at that point.
Four months later, the Wild have won just nine of 38 games since. This game does represent the start of something approaching a last gasp for Minnesota. The Wild have five straight games at Xcel Energy Center, including two against the Flames -- one of the teams Minnesota would have to leapfrog to make a serious about face and move back into playoff contention.
"The one thing I know about coaching is some of the toughest years . . . are the years that you grow the most and you learn the most," Yeo told reporters. "When we were on that run, I pretty much got out of the way and let them go, and now every day is a new challenge.
"You learn things good and bad about yourself and your group as well."
"I don't know what to say," Glencross told reporters. "Sometimes, you get on a streak and you always seem to find the net. Maybe sometimes the net seems a little bigger once you get a few in a row."
Injury Report: Calgary could nearly field an entire forward corps with just the guys who are injured. The Flames were without Michael Cammalleri, Tim Jackman, Lance Bouma, Blake Comeau, Mikael Backlund, Blair Jones and Lee Stempniak on Friday against Winnipeg. Defenseman Chris Butler was also missing. Minnesota could be without both goalies against Calgary because Josh Harding (lower body) and Niklas Backstrom (groin) are both injured. Also missing for the Wild could be defensemen Justin Falk (lower body), Clayton Stoner (hip) and Mike Lundin (hernia), as well as forwards Mikko Koivu (shoulder), Pierre-Marc Bouchard (concussion), Guillaume Latendresse (concussion) and Cal Clutterbuck (undisclosed).
Stat Pack: Only seven of the guys who dressed for Minnesota's win Dec. 10 against Phoenix were in the lineup against the Coyotes on Thursday night because of injury, trades, waivers and demotions -- Marco Scandella, Kyle Brodziak, Clayton Stoner, Dany Heatley, Matt Cullen Darroll Powe and Nick Johnson. The Wild have also been outscored 120-65 in the past four months.
Puck Drop: The last time these two teams met was Jan. 7, and much has changed for both clubs. Minnesota went into that game in sixth place in the Western Conference, while Calgary sat in 12th and six points off the pace.
The Flames are 13-6-7 since, including a win that day against Minnesota. The Wild's decline had already begun, but they are 8-14-4 since the defeat and have completed a slide from the top of the West to 13th position and likely a fourth straight season without postseason hockey in the Twin Cities.