March 21 2010 11:44AM
Welcome to the Game Day Fire Drill, for this, Calgary’s 72nd game of the season on March 21, 2010.
No matter how well the Flames do for the remainder of the season — and let's not forget they still have a cross-country flight next week to play Boston, the Islanders and the Caps — they might not make the playoffs anyway.
Obviously they've improved considerably over the last few weeks, from a results standpoint, but no amount of improving is going to make up for what this team doesn't have, which is dangerous offensive players by the boatload.
I've watched the last two Red Wings games, games they've won or tied inside of half a second to go in either the third period or OT. Detroit, it seems, is hell-bent upon taking the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference and no amount of time is too little for them to manufacture a goalscoring opportunity that the Henrik Zetterbergs of the world can put home. Calgary simply doesn't get chances like that, and certainly doesn't have dynamic players like that.
The Red Wings are, perhaps not surprisingly, losers of just one regulation game since the end of the Olympic break. Calgary, despite going 6-2-0 in the same time period and handing those Wings their only regulation loss, is losing ground and has a much tougher schedule the rest of the way.
A win against the Wild today would be great. Hell, it's pretty much necessary at this point.
The Calgary Flames (36-26-9 for 81 points. Ninth in the West, third in the Northwest) and the Minnesota Wild (34-31-6 for 96 points. Tied for 12 in the West, fourth in the Northwest).
1 p.m. Mountain time and 3 p.m. Eastern time. All other time zones should find out why a salad costs more than a Big Mac.
Pengrowth Saddledome, Calgary, Alberta.
Calgary is 18-10-6 on the road this year, and beat Minnesota 5-2 in their own building two weeks ago. The Wild are 23-9-3 at home, and that's the fifth-best home record in the league.
What (to hate about the Wild)
Casey Wellman — This kid has one game of NHL experience, having come straight to Minnesota after the end of the NCAA hockey season, and already has a point from an incredible assist. Proof that signing college free agents isn't always a terrible idea just because Sutter stinks at drafting them.
Guillaume Latendresse — Why is this guy so good at scoring, particularly against Calgary? In four games with the Wild against the Flames, he has 2-2-4.
Niklas Backstrom — He hasn't played for Minnesota since March 9, and could play today. Great. Career numbers against the Flames: 2.07/.919.
Because Staios will get the Flames into the playoffs! Enjoy the game and ride Steve Staios to victory in the comments section.