The Flames get their first look at the upgraded Minnesota Wild tonight after losing 5-1 to the Canucks on Saturday, and a regulation win tonight would put them within one point of the 11th place Wild.
The Wild are 5-5-1 with 11 points in 11 games so far, and before beating the Nashville Predators 2-1 on Saturday, they had lost three straight. The team is still winless on the road.
I know it's still relatively early (though not really if you consider the fact that the Wild are almost a quarter of the way through the shortened NHL season already), but it would be tough not to say that Minnesota is a bit of a disappointment so far.
Off-season acquisition Zach Parise leads the team in scoring with six goals and 10 points through 11 games, but the Wild have scored one less goal than the Flames have (and Calgary has two games in hand), and have a -5 goal differential in those 11 games.
I'm not sure if they've been unlucky or just bad, or both. Anyway, the Flames had Minnesota's number last season, going 4-2 against the Wild in the season series. What's more, the usually stingy Niklas Backstrom was anything but, as the Flames scored two goals or more in all but one game against their Northwest division rivals in 2011-12.
Let's hope the Flames can keep that up tonight because if Saturday's performance was any indication, they may struggle to keep the puck out of their own net in this game. Unless waiver-wire acquisition Joey MacDonald steps in to save the day.
Lines and Pairings:
Go Flames Go.