Calgary Flames 3-2 Minnesota Wild
The Minnesota Wild once again went into the Pengrowth Saddledome and once again came out with a loss to the Calgary Flames. No matter where these two teams are in the standings, it never goes well for the Wild in Calgary. This season has seen the Flames atop the Northwest division, and the Wild are definitely looking up at the best team in the division.
The Wild once again lost because they simply have no offense. They were outshot 40-15, and continue to find themselves amongst the worst in the league in shots on goal and goals per game. When Stephane Veilleux leads your team in shots with three, you know you are in for a long night. After being outshot 20-5 in the first period, it was clear that the WIld are simply not good enough. They either don't have the offensive talent, or the system is simply not effective enough to win in the NHL of today.
Todd Bertuzzi, Mike Cammalleri and Jarome Iginla had their way with the Wild defense. The three of them combined for as many shots as the Wild (15), but on the bright side, only had two assists between them.
One thing that was clear from tonight's game was how much better the Flames got as a result of their actions at the trading deadline. With Iginla, Cammalleri, Bertuzzi, Jokinen, Nystrom and Lundmark in addition to Phaneuf, Leopold, Sarich and Kiprusoff, the Flames are positioned very nicely for a run at the Western Conference.
The main bright spot since Mikko Koivu went down has been the play of James Sheppard. Sheppard has really stepped up his game. He's getting physical in the corners, making smart plays with the puck, finding his touch as well as paying attention to his defensive responsibilities. I am duly impressed. The kid needs to continue playing like this through next season, and he'll find himself on the second line, and amassing the points we had hoped from him.
Hockey Wilderness Three Stars
- Jamie Lundmark (1 G, 1 A)
- James Sheppard (1 G, +2)
- Eric Nystrom (1 G)
Questions to Answer
- Can the Wild beat Miikka Kiprusoff? Nope, this is loss 24 to Kiprusoff.
- Will the Flames get healthy against Minnesota? They certainly did. After going 133:41 without scoring, the Flames scored three times and had two goals waved off.
- Can Gaborik stay on a hot streak and continue to drive the team into the playoffs? Marian Gaborik led all Wild forwards with 22:41 TOI, but could not get into the offense. He had zero shots on goal and was a -1.
- Which Niklas Backstrom shows up? Well, he wasn't great, but he wasn't horrible. He faced 40 shots, stopping 37. I think it's time for him to sit the rest of the season, as the Wild have virtually no chance to make the playoffs.
- Will we be surprised at the last minute and get the Nolan - Koivu - Gaborik line we all want? Not tonight. Maybe in Edmonton.
- The Wild now find themselves three points behind both St. Louis and Edmonton for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West.
- Minnesota has now lost 24 times to Miika Kiprusoff.
- Calgary has beaten the Wild 14 of the last 15 games at the Saddledome.
The Game In Pictures