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The Scouting Report: Minnesota Wild

Sunday, 10.02.2013 / 10:11 PM / News
By Aaron Vickers  - CalgaryFlames.com (@aavickers)
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The Scouting Report: Minnesota Wild

CALGARY, AB -- After cashing in on the free agent sweepstakes in the form of forward Zach Parise and defenceman Ryan Suter last July, the Minnesota Wild hoped to join the Western Conference’s elite.

That picture has yet to be painted 11 games into the year for the Wild, who sit at 5-5-1 and 11th in the conference at this junction of the season.

While Parise leads the Minnesota offense, a team that boasts the likes of Mikko Koivu, Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi sits 27th in the league in total offense. That lack of production, which includes being held to just one goal five times this season, has seen the Wild hit a rough patch of late. Minnesota has scored just five goals in their last four games, winning just once in that span.

Their win, a 2-1 overtime decision over the Nashville Predators on Saturday, could give Minnesota some momentum heading into Scotiabank Saddledome to take on the Flames Monday night in search of their first win on the road this season.

WHO’S HOT

Niklas Backstrom
Goalie - MIN
RECORD: 4-4-1
GAA: 2.53 | SVP: 0.909
NIKLAS BACKSTROM

Though he’s only 2-3 in his last five starts, Backstrom has been sharp with a 2.00 goals against average and a .926 save percentage. Unfortunately the 34-year-old Finnish netminder hasn’t had much in the way of scoring support during that span with the team scoring just eight goals over that same period. In all, Backstrom has a respectable 2.53 goals against average and .909 save percentage in nine appearances in the Wild crease this season.

WHO’S NOT

Pierre-Marc Bouchard
Left Wing - MIN
GOALS: 2 | ASST: 1 | PTS: 3
SOG: 14 | +/-: 2
PIERRE-MARC BOUCHARD

Bouchard has just two goals and an assist to show for in 11 games of action this season for the Wild, but perhaps the silver lining is that Bouchard has skated in every game for Minnesota this season. Playing just 97 games in the last three seasons, the former first round pick from 2002 is again a regular in the lineup. Potentially conquering his concussion issues, the 28-year-old needs to regain his touch that saw him record a franchise-best 50 assists in 2007-08.

THREE PLAYERS TO WATCH

ZACH PARISE

Though he’s got just one point – a goal – in his last six games, Parise has the ability to be a game-breaker each and every time he steps on the ice. The five-time 30-goal scorer currently leads Minnesota in goals (6) and points (10) after signing a 13-year, $98 million contract last July.

DANY HEATLEY

With his lowest goal output since the 2002-03 season (a year in which he played just 31 games), Heatley is seemingly finding the back of the net with more regularity this season. The Calgary product has four goals on 24 shots through Minnesota’s 11 games so far this season.

MIKAEL GRANLUND

In his first year of North American hockey, Granlund hasn’t had the immediate impact some predicted he would as an NHL rookie. With one goal and three points through his first 10 games, the Wild will need the brother of Flames’ prospect Markus Granlund to pick up his game to help ignite Minnesota’s offense from the second line.

BY THE NUMBERS

Record This Season: 5-51
Calgary’s Record All-Time: 39-19-4-7
Calgary’s Record Head-To-Head Last Year: 4-1-1
Record Last Season: 35-36-11 (12th in Western Conference)
Wild Scoring Leaders: CLICK HERE
Flames Scoring Leaders: CLICK HERE
Top Scorers vs. Flames Last Season: Dany Heatley – 3G 2A 5P
Flames Top Scorer Last Season: Jarome Iginla – 4G 2A 6P