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Calgary Flames vs Minnesota Wild game preview: Time for a new winning streak

The Wild are having a hard time piecing together winning streaks this season. The Flames need nothing but lengthy winning streaks, because the fight for the playoffs is tight.

Remember that time Granlunds??
Remember that time Granlunds??
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

It's Alumni Night (ft. Gary Roberts!). And okay, so here's the deal: going into tonight's contests, the San Jose Sharks have 56 points, the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames 55, and the Los Angeles Kings 54. There are three playoff spots available. Can you say "tight" and "must-win" or what? Tonight is the Flames' first of three matchups against the Minnesota Wild. Last season, Minnesota took the season series 2-1. This season, let's hope that doesn't happen, because seriously, the Flames need to win as much as possible now.

And they won the last game! Granted, the Buffalo Sabres are among the NHL's absolute worst, but it took until the third period for the Flames to really turn it on. Three goals in the third period sealed the 4-1 victory. Josh Jooris got his 10th, not to mention the game winner, while Johnny Gaudreau scored twice. | RecapStatsBoxscore | Joe Colborne scored as well:

The Wild, meanwhile, almost certainly had higher expectations than to barely be above .500 (and that's with the loser point). They did recently beat the Sabres 7-0, though, so when faced with McEichel-level competition, at least they can apparently put it on. Right before that game, though, they lost 7-2 to the Pittsburgh Penguins, so... that's the flip side. The Flames are probably closer to the Sabres than the Pens in terms of overall play, but it would be pretty shocking if the Wild put up seven. Or gave up seven. No team is going to score seven goals tonight is what I'm saying, probably.

Most recently, the Wild defeated the Edmonton Oilers 2-1, as the Edmonton Oilers tend to be defeated a lot. Charlie Coyle scored a highlight reel goal late in the third, and the Wild hanged on to preserve Devan Dubnyk's streak of being undefeated against his old team.

Anyway, the Wild have only had five winning streaks all season. Three of them came in October. For more on just what, exactly, is up with them, head on over to Hockey Wilderness.

Game time: 7:00 p.m. MT

Channel: SNW

All-time record: Remember back when the Flames had Jarome Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff, and they absolutely owned the Wild? That plays a part in the all-time record, because Calgary has a pretty good 42-22-4-9 lead. And yet, somehow, just a +1 goal differential: 178 scores to the Wild's 177. That's wild. Let's not let them even that part of the record up.

Common threads: Mikael Granlund is Markus' older brother! Mikael has four goals and 15 points over 33 games this season. Markus got five goals and 13 points over 33 games before returning to the AHL. Also Markus is taller, so who's the REAL little brother here, exactly?!

Also the Wild have Nino Niederreiter because the New York Islanders gave up on him early. Fifteen goals and 22 points over 47 games ain't bad. It's certainly better than the four goals and 10 points Cal Clutterbuck has for New York. Why do I bring this up? As a cautionary tale. Please do not give up on your first rounder Swiss prospects!!

Approaching milestones: I cannot wait for Mark Giordano to play his 500th game. Tonight is number 498 for him. That's awesome.

For Minnesota, Kyle Brodziak needs five more goals for 100. That's probably not going to happen tonight. Thomas Vanek just needs one more assist for 300, though, so that... has a pretty decent chance of happening, actually. Matt Cooke needs four more points for 400, and that had seriously better not happen, because 1. Please don't give up four goals, and 2. It's Matt Cooke uuuggghhhh.

Current records and leaders

Calgary Flames Minnesota Wild
26-19-3: 55 points 21-20-6: 48 points
Pacific Division: 4th Central Division: 7th
Western Conference: 8th Western Conference: 12th
Goal Differential: +14 Goal Differential: -8
Time on ice
Defence: TJ Brodie (25:06 per game)
Forward: Sean Monahan (19:26 per game)
Defence: Ryan Suter (29:37 per game)
Forward: Zach Parise (19:39 per game)
Points
Goals: Johnny Gaudreau
Sean Monahan (15)
Assists: Mark Giordano (30)
Points: Jiri Hudler
Mark Giordano (41)
Goals: Zach Parise (19)
Assists: Jason Pominville (29)
Points: Jason Pominville (38)
Shots
Shots on goal: Mark Giordano
Sean Monahan (119)
Shooting percentage: Josh Jooris
Matt Stajan (20.0%)
Shots on goal: Zach Parise (156)
Shooting percentage: Matt Cooke (17.4%)
Faceoff Leaders
Sean Monahan (49.8%, 1066 taken) Mikko Koivu (54.9%, 1076 taken)
Grit
Penalty minutes: Brandon Bollig (42)
Hits: Lance Bouma (156)
Blocked shots: Kris Russell (149)
Penalty minutes: Ryan Carter (48)
Hits: Charlie Coyle (85)
Blocked shots: Jared Spurgeon (84)
ES Corsi/Fenwick (minimum 1/2 team's games played)
Corsi for%: Mark Giordano (49.5%, 48 GP)
Jiri Hudler (49.4%, 46 GP)
Fenwick for%: Josh Jooris (51.3%, 33 GP)
Jiri Hudler (50.1%, 46 GP)
Corsi for%: Mikko Koivu (55.8%, 47 GP)
Jason Pominville (54.5%, 47 GP)
Fenwick for%: Mikko Koivu (56.3%, 47 GP)
Jason Pominville (56.0%, 47 GP)


Possible starting lineups

Calgary Flames
Left Wing Center Right Wing
Johnny Gaudreau Sean Monahan Jiri Hudler
Lance Bouma Mikael Backlund David Jones
Mason Raymond Josh Jooris Joe Colborne
Brandon Bollig Matt Stajan Paul Byron
Left Defense Right Defense
Mark Giordano TJ Brodie
Kris Russell Dennis Wideman
Rafa Diaz Deryk Engelland
Goalies
Jonas Hiller
Karri Ramo

Minnesota Wild
Left Wing Center Right Wing
Zach Parise Mikael Granlund Thomas Vanek
Jason Zucker Mikko Koivu Jason Pominville
Ryan Carter Charlie Coyle Nino Niederreiter
Matt Cooke Kyle Brodziak Justin Fontaine
Left Defense Right Defense
Ryan Suter Jonas Brodin
Jared Spurgeon Marco Scandella
Nate Prosser Christian Folin
Goalies
Devan Dubnyk
Niklas Backstrom


The Flames lines appear to be unchanged, which is... uh... Hey, what was the point of calling up a bunch of players again only to tell them, "No, you are not allowed on the ice, Brandon Bollig and Deryk Engelland need their sub-10 minute games, you cannot have them"? We're aware that prospects need actual playing time, right? Tyler Wotherspoon isn't Corey Potter, he has an NHL future ahead of him? David Wolf's reward for a good past few games is a bump in pay but that's it; forget playing in the NHL after you scored six goals in four games, kid? And just what the heck is the plan for Sven Baertschi, here? We seriously believe Lance Bouma should be in a scoring role over him? For real?

tl;dr Don't call up kids unless you intend to play the kids. This is why I didn't want Brian McGrattan sent down. He wasn't hurting anybody in the pressbox. Now Baertschi or Wolf is twiddling his thumbs while waiting to go back down to the AHL.

The Sabres were one Brian away from an all-Brian line; the Wild are one Jason away from an all-Jason line. Also, how amazing would a Brodie - Brodin pairing have been? Things we'll probably never know, sadly.