Game Preview: Minnesota Wild vs. Calgary Flames 2/26/22 @ 9:00PM CST at Scotiabank Saddledome

Minnesota Wild (31-15-3)  65 pts  3rd in the Central

3.73 Goals For Per Game (3rd in he NHL)

3.00 Goals Against Per Game (20th in the NHL)

20.3% Power Play (16th in the NHL)

79.3% Penalty Kill (19th in the NHL)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #97 Kirill Kaprizov ~ 23G 39A = 62pts

2. #36 Mats Zuccarello ~ 17G 35A = 52 pts

3. #22 Kevin Fiala ~ 17G 26A = 43pts

4. #38 Ryan Hartman ~ 19G 18A = 37pts

5. #14 Joel Eriksson Ek ~ 16G 12A = 28pts

Top 3 PIM’s:

1. #17 Marcus Foligno ~ 87 PIMs

2. #21 Brandon Dumaime ~ 63 PIMs

3. #38 Ryan Hartman ~ 52 PIMs

Top Goaltenders:

1. #33 Cam Talbot ~ (19-11-1)   2.94GAA   .910SV%   1SO

2. #34 Kaapo Kahkonen ~ (12-4-2)   2.54GAA   .921SV%

 

Vs.

 

Calgary Flames (30-14-6)  66pts  1st in the Pacific

3.36 Goals For Per Game (8th in the NHL)

2.42 Goals Against Per Game (2nd in the NHL)

21.7% Power Play (11th in the NHL)

84.3% Penalty Kill (6th in the NHL)

Top 5 Scorers:

1. #13 Johnny Gaudreau ~ 20G 44A = 64pts

2. #19 Matthew Tkachuk ~ 24G 32A = 56pts

3. #28 Elias Lindholm ~ 23G 26A = 49pts

4. #88 Andrew Mangiapane ~ 26G 9A = 35pts

5. #4 Rasmus Andersson ~ 2G 25A = 27pts

Top 3 PIM’s:

1. #17 Milan Lucic ~ 57 PIMs

2. #44 Erik Gudbranson ~ 51 PIMs

3. #20 Blake Coleman ~ 48 PIMs

Top Goaltenders:

1. #25 Jakob Markstrom ~ (23-11-5)   2.11GAA   .926SV%   8SO

2. #80 Dan Vladar ~ (7-3-1)   2.86GAA   .903SV%   2SO

Lines:

Calgary Flames

J.Gaudreau~Lindholm~M.Tkachuk

Mangiapane~Backlund~Coleman

Dube~Monahan~Toffoli

Lucic~Ruzicka~Lewis

Hanifin~Andersson

Kylington~C.Tanev

Zadorov~Gudbranson

Markstrom

Vladar

Minnesota Wild

Kaprizov-Hartman-Zuccarello

Fiala-Gaudreau-Boldy

Foligno-Eriksson Ek- Bjugstad

Sturm-Dewar-Duhaime

Goligoski-Spurgeon

Brodin-Kulikov

Merrill-Addison

Talbot

Kahkonen

 

I don’t know about you, but I’m not looking forward to tonight. Not only is it a late start time, but it’s against one of the teams I’ve not wanted to face all season. I cannot tell you how just about every thing about the Calgary Flames has me saying “no, you don’t want to watch this.” However as a fan of this team, I will still tune in as much as it may hurt. And the crazy part is that they’re not putting up crazy offensive numbers. In the case of the Flames, it is all about shutting the opposition, and this is what they do better than just about any team.

First, we’re going to start with the obvious. In most cases the obvious comes in the form of someone who puts up huge goal numbers, but that’s not what is going on in Calgary. This time though, the ultimate shut down guy is the absolute line of defense. If you haven’t heard of Jakob Markstrom, I believe you’ve been living under a rock this season. Not only does he have great Goals Against Average and Save Percentage this season, but it’s the last major goaltending stat that blows the league out of the season. Honestly, I can’t remember a season where at this point a goaltender has eight shutouts. The next closer goaltenders (and there are three of them) have only four.

While we’ve looked at a single player, Markstrom wouldn’t have the stats he has if it wasn’t for the skaters in front of him. Overall, Calgary has the second best Goals Against per League. Only the Carolina Hurricanes are better than the Flames in this stats, and this is where things get scary. Sure the Wild beat Carolina, however we’ve been beaten by teams we should have beaten after that game. Since we’ve looked at the team’s overall Goals Against Per Game, we also have to look at the special teams defensive number. Calgary also has the sixth best penalty kill in the league.

Now I get that defensive numbers aren’t exactly exciting, but they’re just as important. With that in mind, we now need to turn to the offensive side of the game. When it comes to Goals for Per game and power play, the Flames aren’t too shabby either. Their eighth best Goals For Per Game and eleventh best power play can cause issue for Minnesota, and that is where I am also concerned. Yes with their offensive numbers, they may be enough to overcome the Wild’s sometimes anemic defensive numbers. And in particular, Minnesota’s penalty kill is something I’d rather not think of. While no one likes to take penalties, it often feels like the Wild spend too much time in the box.

With offensive numbers in mind, we need to look at the individuals who score. I don’t know about you, but when I see four of the top five scorers for a team with 20 or more goals, it can only cause some worry. Among those four skater, they have 93 goals for the season. And when I compare that to Minnesota’s first four of the five top scorers, we only have 76 goals. To get close to Carolina’s numbers, you have to add the 5th top scorer. But of course we’re just looking at stuff on paper, and games aren’t played on paper. While Johnny Gaudreau is scoring goals of his own, he also has the ability to set up linemates as well.

And working in Calgary’s favor tonight should be anger. While Minnesota was struggling in Toronto, Calgary was visiting Vancouver. I don’t know about you, but getting beat down 7-1 by the Canucks when you’re a team that usually shuts down the opposition is not a good feeling. But when you look at the overall standings for the league, a win against Calgary looks a little more achievable. While it’s achievable, it not going to be easy. Sure Calgary will be playing with a chip on their shoulder, but shouldn’t the Wild also be playing with the same anger and urgency. However right now with how they’ve been playing, I don’t know if they have it in them. And that is the sad part of all of this.