Game #14: Minnesota Wild at Calgary Flames, Tuesday November 8, 2011 at 8:30pm (CST), Pengrowth Saddledome [GAME PREVIEW]

Record Pts Div. Rank G/G GA/G PP% PK%
Minnesota Wild (7-3-3) 17 2nd NW 2.15 (27) 1.92 (2) 11.1% (27)

82.2% (17)

Calgary Flames
(6-6-1) 13 5th NW 2.31 (23) 2.46 (10) 17.8% (13) 82.6% (15)

 

Minnesota Wild
Top 5 Scorers: G A Pts
1. #7 Matt Cullen 6 2 8
2. #15 Dany Heatley 4 4 8
3. #10 Devin Setoguchi 4 4 8
4. #9 Mikko Koivu 1 7 8
5. #96 Pierre-Marc Bouchard 1 7 8
Top 3 Penalty Minutes: PIM
1. #16 Brad Staubitz 20
2. #48 Guillaume Latendresse 18
3. #22 Cal Clutterbuck 16
Goaltenders: GAA SV%
1. #37 Josh Harding (4-0-1) 1.18 .965
2. #32 Niklas Backstrom (3-3-2) 2.30 .912
Calgary Flames
Top 5 Scorers: G A Pts
1. #40 Alex Tanguay 3 8 11
2. #13 Olli Jokinen 3 6 9
3. #12 Jarome Iginla 4 4 8
4. #20 Curtis Glencross 4 4 8
5. #17 Rene Bourque 5 0 5
Top 3 Penalty Minutes: PIM
1. #6 Cory Sarich 23
2. #15 Tim Jackman 22
3. #5 Mark Giordano 12
 
Goaltenders: GAA SV%
1. #34 Miikka Kiprusoff (6-4-0) 2.19 .925
2. #35 Henrik Karlsson (0-2-1) 2.94 .910
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It was depressing to turn on the weather report this morning.  Here in the Upper Midwest, snow is now in the forecast.  Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love winter.  I love the temperatures, the clean look and feeling of freshly fallen snow.  I do not however, like winter travel.  With the Wild heading out on a five-game roadtrip and snow in our forecast, I start to hear the words of one particular Christmas carol: Over the river and through the woods…

In the past couple of weeks, the Minnesota Wild have appeared to turn the proverbial corner.  They went from a struggling team, to the number five spot in the Western Conference.  With the way the season started, I wasn’t sure if we’d ever see that.  I’m glad I was wrong.  Now, we have to deal with the next test.  Five games on the road, and the teams they’ll be facing will be tests in various forms.  Tonight’s opponent is definitely multi-faceted.

First off, the Calgary Flames are clearly not having the season they would wish to have.  Currently, they are sitting in last place in the Northwest Division, a place many felt would belong to Minnesota.  This season, they’re having some scoring issues, much like the Wild (albeit not as abysmal).  For Wild fans, we don’t usually equate scoring woes with Calgary.  And if that means that Jarome Iginla is not scoring as much as he normally does, I’m not going to complain.  It also appears, that some additional struggles for Calgary is overall team defense.  Miikka Kiprusoff’s stats are not bad.  For whatever reason, they’re just not as gifted when it comes to team defense.  Once again, another thing I’m going to complain about.

With Calgary’s own struggles, I am worried about how the Wild will come out tonight.  I’ve talked about this over the years, but Minnesota often chokes against teams that are not having a good season.  Calgary is definitely a team that wants and needs to turn things around.  They’ll definitely take advantage of the home crowd, and they’ll want to please that crowd.  The Calgary fans have watched a 3-3-1 team inside the confines of the Saddledome.  They’ll want to turn that three wins into four.  The other problem I see for Minnesota is they’re riding a wave of confidence.  They need to continue that confidence, and turn that confidence into shots on Kiprusoff.  This is even more important when you consider that goaltender Niklas Backstrom is slated to get his first start in five games.  Sure, Backstrom has good numbers against Calgary, I’m just worried that the night we need Backstrom to be a number one goalie, will be the night he comes out flat.  I seriously hope I’m wrong.

Tonight will set the theme for the Wild’s roadtrip.  Hopefully it’s a merry ride through the Western Conference.  Hopefully we can get back to grandmother’s house (Xcel Energy Center) with more wins than losses. 

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