March 07 2010 12:44PM
Welcome to the Game Day Fire Drill, for this, Calgary’s 65th game of the season on March 7, 2010.
I don't know what, exactly, it is about the Wild that makes Calgary just turn to a gooey pile of pliable gel, but man, it's effective.
Calgary used to dominate Minnesota, you know. You wouldn't know it these days, but before this season, Calgary went 23-5-2 against the Wild since the lockout. This year? Well, the nicest thing you can say is that they kept it respectable in the overtime loss.
There's just nothing the Flames have been able to do to make the Wild fear them. First and most obviously they've been outscored 10-2 in 183-plus minutes. A goal every 91 minutes or so is, for those that aren't familiar, not very good. Yeah, the Flames' offense is 27th in the NHL this year, but this makes an already-bad situation so much worse.
And the same is true of faceoffs, actually. You'd think the Flames would be hard-pressed to do considerably worse than their 29th-ranked faceoff percentage of 47.5, but they've blown well past that level of futility against Minnesota, which has positively battered the Flames at the dot, winning 100 of the games' 157 draws, a 63.7 percent clip. Honestly, a faceoff percentage of 36.3 for Calgary. It's almost unfathomable, even if the Wild are second in the league on draws. The worst part, though, is offensive zone draws. Calgary has won 20 of 67 (29.9 percent) and that's seriously going to kill a game.
Not to make too much of it — too late, right? — but the only Calgary players with faceoff percentages above 50 are Dustin Boyd (what ever happened to THAT guy?) and Jamal Mayers. Great, see ya out there!
The Calgary Flames (31-24-9 for 71 points. Ninth in the West, third in the Northwest) and the Minnesota Wild (31-27-5 for 67 points. Tied for 12th in the West, fourth in the Northwest).
1 p.m. Mountain time and 3 p.m. Eastern time. All other time zones should become the greatest person that ever lived.
Pengrowth Saddledome, Calgary, Alberta.
Calgary is 15-9-6 on the road this year, but 0-2-1 against Minnesota overall. The Wild are 21-8-2 at home, which is the fourth-best home record in the West.
What (to hate about the Wild)
Guillaume Latendresse — Did you know Latendresse is Minnesota's leading goalscorer this year with 19? It's true! Did you know that he's scored those 19 goals in just 33 games since being traded from Montreal.
Niklas Backstrom — He's played all three games against Calgary this year and done okay. Insofar as 3-0-0 with two goals allowed on 78 shots (a .974 save percentage!) over three games is "okay."
Marek Zidlicky and Martin Havlat — Against the Flames this year, they've combined for eight points in three games (2.67 per). Against every other team in the league, they've combined for 77. Great.
Because the Flames just might beat the Wild this time. Enjoy the game and hope for a win in the comments section.