If the Calgary Flames make the playoffs, they’ll probably eke into a wild-card spot. (Heck, I predicted as much on the eve of the season.) If they are successful with their eking over the next 30 games there’s a very good chance they’ll be facing the Minnesota Wild, who began the home-stretch of their season yesterday in Edmonton as the top team in the Western Conference. It’s a big test for the Flames, but one they’ll need to pass if they have any hope of getting into the post-season. And let’s be honest: they’re all big games from here on out.
The home stretch kicks off at 8 p.m. MT on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan!
Lines via Daily Faceoff:
After winning before the All-Star Break, Brian Elliott is back between the pipes for the Flames. He’s 9-12-2 with a 2.88 goals against average and .892 save percentage. The Flames are basically in “win and you start again” mode, and until somebody emerges as a top gun they’re probably gonna stay in that mode.
Lines have been shuffled a bit, which is a bit weird considering the Flames won with their new lines against Ottawa before the break. Most of the changes were on the right side: Michael Frolik moves from the Gaudreau/Monahan line to being back with Backlund/Tkachuk. Alex Chiasson moves from Backlund/Tkachuk to Versteeg/Bennett. Troy Brouwer moves from Versteeg/Bennett to Gaudreau//Monahan. The most curious change was the Brouwer move, given that he’s been arguably the team’s worst possession player and putting him with the team’s best offensive players seems like putting an anchor in the water behind a speed boat.
Lines via Daily Faceoff:
Calgary product Devan Dubnyk starts for the Wild tonight. He’s 27-8-3 with a 1.88 goals against average and .936 save percentage. He started (and lost) both of Minnesota’s games against Calgary this season. The Wild are currently without Jonas Brodin, Victor Bartley and Zac Dalpe due to injury, while Christian Folin was their healthy extra body last night.
It’s the second game of a back-to-back for the Wild coming off the All-Star Break. They beat Edmonton 5-2 last night at Rogers Place, chasing Cam Talbot midway through the second period after three goals. The Wild? Turns out they’re pretty good. The Flames have done alright against them this season so far, primarily because they’ve played a tight-checking, structured game against Minnesota. They’ll need to be smart and restrained once more, and try to make fewer mistakes than the Wild do.
In 85 previous regular season meetings between these two clubs, the Flames are 45-26-14. This is the third of three meetings between these teams this season. The Flames won both of the previous meetings: a 1-0 win in mid-November and a 3-2 shootout victory at the beginning of December.
KNOW THY ENEMY
Here are some recommended Wild follows:
Today is FlamesNation’s 8th birthday! Since our site began on February 2, 2009, the Flames have made just a single playoff appearance (in 2014-15) and have gone 293-265-68 in the regular season – they’re 20th in points during that span.
SUM IT UP
It’s a big game tonight, and the Flames will have 29 big games before this season is over with. They probably need to get to 88 points to clinch a playoff spot. Starting off the home stretch with a couple points tonight would help them in a major way.