The Calgary Flames are out of the playoffs, and they need help to get back in. First off, they need to help themselves by winning; secondly, they need help from other teams by their losing. The Los Angeles Kings aren't helping, they're looking out for themselves and winning. So are the Winnipeg Jets. The Vancouver Canucks hilariously lost to the Colorado Avalanche last night, giving Reto Berra a win in regulation somehow, so that was nice, but more is needed.
There's one other team the Flames are directly competing against for a playoff spot, and that team is the Minnesota Wild. So tonight is HUGE. Four points separate the two teams now, and Minnesota's series win over the Flames - courtesy of a 1-0 victory and then a 3-2 overtime win - hasn't helped. But a win tonight would bring the two teams within two points of one another, helping close that gap. It may be wild card or nothing for Calgary, so they need this, and they need it bad.
A repeat of last game can't happen. The Flames may have gotten one point, but they were lucky to do so. After all, it's not very often you can rely on Deryk Engelland scoring twice to keep you in the game, but... that's what ended up happening against the Dallas Stars, somehow. The Stars ended up taking the 4-3 shootout victory to keep their playoff hopes alive (even though they aren't actually going to make it, so...) | Recap | Stats | Boxscore | Okay, but Johnny Gaudreau's goal, with pretty passing from the rest of the top line, is definitely worth a rewatch:
Anyway, the Wild. Direct playoff spot competition. And they've mostly been helping themselves as of late, what with a 9-3-0 record so far this March, and a current three-game winning streak and all. Those wins have been 2-1 affairs over the (bad) Toronto Maple Leafs and the (less bad, but after last night, how dare you) New York Islanders. That win over the Isles, in particular, really stings, because the Wild scored in the third to force a shootout that they eventually ended up taking to secure the all-important second point. Somebody needs to put a stop to these jerks.
For more on the opposition, be sure to head over to Hockey Wilderness.
Game time: 6:00 p.m. MT
All-time record: The Flames have a winning all-time record against the Wild with 42-23-4-10, and a -1 goal differential. Still not entirely sure how that happened. Let's get that fixed tonight, shall we?
Common threads: Brothers! Mikael Granlund centres the Wild's first line, while Markus Granlund centres the Flames' third. Throw in Mikael Backlund and things may get confusing tonight. Imagine if all three were on the same team? Then imagine if TJ Brodie and Jonas Brodin were defence partners. Wow. What could be.
Approaching milestones: Jiri Hudler is just three games away from his 600th. Mikael Backlund has entered the fray, now 10 games from his 300th. And Rafa Diaz is three away and Lance Bouma is seven away from their own 200th games.
Karri Ramo, now the forever starter it would seem, is seven wins away from 50. He needs those wins. We need those wins.
David Jones remains eight goals from 100, while Dennis Wideman, remains 10 from the same tally.
TJ Brodie's next point will be his 100th. Sean Monahan, meanwhile, is already just 10 points away from 100 in the second year of his career. Wow.
On the other side of things, Thomas Vanek is four goals from 300, so let's just... not. Sean Bergenehim is four from 100. Let's also not. Ryan Suter is three assists from 300. Still nope. Mikko Koivu is five points from 500... nah. Jared Spurgeon is two points from 100, which is probably the most doable on this list, but still: no.
Scoreboard watching: The Flames aren't really in direct competition with anyone else playing tonight (their actual opponent aside, that is, because man, the Flames are very much in competition with the Wild). The Chicago Blackhawks are probably going to finish as one of the Central's top three teams, while the Dallas Stars probably are not going to make the playoffs, period. You can cheer for the Edmonton Oilers to beat them if you want, but as long as the Flames win, the Stars aren't a threat in the slightest.
Current records and leaders
|Calgary Flames||Minnesota Wild|
|Record: 40-27-7: 87 points||Record: 42-25-7: 91 points|
|Pacific Division: 4th||Central Division: 4th|
|Western Conference: 9th||Western Conference: 5th|
|Goal Differential: +22||Goal Differential: +28|
|Time on ice|
Defence: Mark Giordano (25:10 per game)
Forward: Sean Monahan (19:36 per game)
Defence: Ryan Suter (29:03 per game)
Forward: Mikko Koivu (19:20 per game)
Goals: Sean Monahan (29)
Assists: Jiri Hudler (39)
Points: Jiri Hudler (66)
Goals: Zach Parise (29)
Assists: Ryan Suter (34)
Points: Zach Parise (57)
Shots on goal: Sean Monahan (176)
Shooting percentage: Jiri Hudler (19.1%)
Shots on goal: Zach Parise (231)
Shooting percentage: Matt Cooke (17.4%)
|Sean Monahan (50.1%, 1656 taken)||Mikko Koivu (55.7%, 1658 taken)
Penalty minutes: Brandon Bollig (68)
Hits: Lance Bouma (248)
Blocked shots: Kris Russell (259)
Penalty minutes: Ryan Carter (53)
Hits: Nino Niederreiter (137)
Blocked shots: Jared Spurgeon (117)
|ES Corsi/Fenwick (minimum 1/2 team's games played)|
Corsi for%: Mark Giordano (48.44%, 61 GP)
Josh Jooris (47.28%,54 GP)
Fenwick for%: Josh Jooris (49.69%, 54 GP)
Mikael Backlund (49.09%, 44 GP)
Corsi for%: Mikko Koivu (54.68%, 74 GP)
Jason Zucker (54.48%, 48 GP)
Fenwick for%: Mikko Koivu (55.44%, 74 GP)
Jason Pominville (54.06%, 74 GP)
Possible starting lineups
|Left Wing||Center||Right Wing|
|Johnny Gaudreau||Sean Monahan||Jiri Hudler|
|Lance Bouma||Mikael Backlund||David Jones|
|Mason Raymond||Markus Granlund||Drew Shore|
|Joe Colborne||Matt Stajan||Josh Jooris|
|Left Defence||Right Defence|
|Kris Russell||Dennis Wideman|
|TJ Brodie||Deryk Engelland|
|David Schlemko||Rafa Diaz|
|Left Wing||Center||Right Wing|
|Zach Parise||Mikael Granlund||Jason Pominville|
|Nino Niederreiter||Mikko Koivu||Chris Stewart|
|Thomas Vanek||Charlie Coyle||Justin Fontaine|
|Sean Bergenheim||Erik Haula||Jordan Schroeder|
|Left Defence||Right Defence|
|Ryan Suter||Jonas Brodin|
|Marco Scandella||Jared Spurgeon|
|Jordan Leopold||Mathew Dumba|
Drew Shore is apparently healthy enough to play again, meaning while he draws in, Brandon Bollig draws out. And wow - remove Bollig, and suddenly, the lineup looks a lot more balanced? There's a lot more flexibility in there; anyone on those bottom three lines looks mixable with anyone else. Plus there are like, nine centres, which is pretty awesome.