Yeah, we’ve already seen the amazingly exciting Minnesota Wild twice this season, and the Calgary Flames hook up with them for the second time in three nights tonight at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul (6 pm, Sportsnet West and The FAN 960). For the Flames, it’s a chance to bounce back after their embarassing loss to Vancouver on Wednesday night…and they’ll turn to the backup to try and get the job done.
For the first time in a while, the Flames play a team that does not sit above the .500 mark, and it’s a team they have a chance to make some real ground on this month. After this game, Calgary will play Minnesota twice more in December, with a home-and-home set coming up in a couple weeks.
Henrik Karlsson gets the start in net for the Flames, his fourth start this season, as he sits with a 1-1-1 record. His last game was a fairly solid effort in a 2-1 shootout loss to the New Jersey Devils; Karlsson wasn’t tested a whole lot in regulation that night, but came to play in overtime, making a few key stops to push this thing to a shootout. With Calgary playing in Chicago on Sunday, and with four games overall next week, this looked like a good time to get Karlsson in. I’m a little surprised the decision was made, however, coming off that 7-2 thumping on Wednesday.
Curtis Glencross was not suspended for his cross check on Vancouver’s Keith Ballard on Wednesday, a move by the NHL that is certainly surprising. After Olli Jokinen got three games for a similar cross check earlier this season, it seemed like common sense that Curtis would get something similar, if not more. But, what have we learned about applying common sense to the way NHL justice is doled out? Fool me once, shame on you…fool me twice, shame on me. So, what about fool me 300 times?
Glencross will play tonight, and Ales Kotalik will not. It was believed he would return to the lineup and play his first game this season either Wednesday or today, but it seems as if he’s not quite ready. If and when he’s ready to return, it’s expected Kotalik will get top six minutes. As for Adam Pardy, it looks like he’s pretty close, and could be back in during Calgary’s California swing next week. Here are lines and pairings tonight:
Alex Tanguay-Matt Stajan-Jarome Iginla
Niklas Hagman-Mikael Backlund-Olli Jokinen
Curtis Glencross-David Moss-Rene Bourque
Tom Kostopoulos-Brendan Morrison-Tim Jackman
Robyn Regehr-Cory Sarich
Jay Bouwmeester-Steve Staios
Mark Giordano-Anton Babchuk
I don’t like seeing Bouwmeester and Regehr split up, but they might be a pairing Brent Sutter chooses to go with against teams with real high end offensive skill. Perhaps Minnesota doesn’t boast that type of scary high end talent, so Sutter has decided to juggle things up. Brendan Mikkelson comes out of the lineup, as Sutter didn’t like him against the Canucks; yet Anton Babchuk remains in the lineup. Good times.
Here come the Wild…again. Calgary played them back at the beginning of November in St. Paul, falling 2-1 in one of their few losses this season where a better fate was probably deserved. It was a night where Niklas Backstrom was pretty strong in between the Minnesota pipes, and he’ll get the call in net once again. Jose Theodore got the start Monday night and it was thought he might start in this game.
Chuck Kobasew may or may not return to the Wild lineup, if he does, he’ll push Brad Staubitz out. It’s a Wild team sitting 11-11-2 on the year, and a team needing to make some noise as well. Here are lines and pairings for Minnesota:
Andrew Brunette-Mikko Koivu-Antti Miettenen
Patrick O’Sullivan-Matt Cullen-Cal Clutterbuck
Martin Havlat-Pierre Marc Bouchard-Kyle Brodziak
Eric Nystrom-John Madden-Brad Staubitz/Chuck Kobasew
Greg Zanon-Marek Zidlicky
Nick Schultz-Brent Burns
Tyler Spurgeon-Cam Barker
Good to see Bouchard back in the lineup, as he returned last game after 14 months away from game action recovering from a concussion. It was a long road back, and regardless of who the player is, it’s always good to see a guy return like that. He has a lot of skill and for a team lacking a ton of offensive creativity, they could really use him back in the lineup.
Havlat was by far Minnesota’s most dangerous player on Monday, making things happen a few times against the Flames. Watching him play, his skill level is shockingly high.
Aside from breaking a season series tie, the storyline for this game is pretty self explanatory. 7-2 on Monday was the final score for the opposition on Wednesday, and bouncing back from something like that is pretty important. Calgary has shown an ability to do that, but sustaining that response has always been their problem. Again, this is a Wild team the Flames should beat…however, that seems to be a whole lot easier said than done with this team.