After a wild weekend at home, the Calgary Flames begin a quick jaunt on the road tonight. A trip that also sees them visit Colorado for the first time on Thursday starts tonight when the Flames take on the Minnesota Wild at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul (6 pm, Sportsnet 960 and Sportsnet West).
For the first time this season, the Flames won back-to-back games on home ice over the weekend, taking wins over the Wild and Phoenix Coyotes. The wins came against stingy teams, meaning things were still up for grabs heading to the third period. That's an important thing, as Calgary doubled their home win total in one weekend, going from two to four just like that.
The Flames have yet to go on a three game win streak this season, and they'll need something like it (and probably longer) to propel them to where they want to be. Other than the Blue Jackets, nobody is really out of it in the Western Conference yet, so getting on a streak is crucial for any team in Calgary's position. A good two game road trip could be really helpful; a tough one, and the Flames are back in the position they were heading into the weekend.
Calgary Flames 7-7-3, 13th Western Conference
Alex Tanguay-Matt Stajan-Jarome Iginla
Curtis Glencross-Michael Cammalleri-Lee Stempniak
Sven Baertschi-Blake Comeau-Jiri Hudler
Roman Cervenka-Steve Begin-Tim Jackman
Mark Giordano-Jay Bouwmeester
Dennis Wideman-T.J. Brodie
Chris Butler-Derek Smith
Those were the lines the Flames finished with in Sunday's exciting 5-4 win over the Coyotes. The top line was responsible for two of the most important goals that night, tying things up on two different occasions; once in the second and again late in the third. It was Iginla cashing in both of those times, and Flames fans hope that's the beginning of some better fortune for the captain. He scored his second and third of the season in Calgary's 17th game of the year. Iginla is prone to slow starts, but this is as slow as we've ever seen it.
The player to watch is Cervenka. After sitting out on Saturday, the first year NHLer played just 2:57 Sunday against Phoenix. He saw duty on the Flames fourth line and had less than a minute of ice time in the third period. Head Coach Bob Hartley says Cervenka has hit a wall, with a number of things on and off the ice affecting him. More than anything, his conditioning is something the team is concerned about, and I think it's the main reason why he's played much less over the last three games.
Joey MacDonald gets the start in net, looking for his fourth win as a member of the Flames. This is his team until Miikka Kiprusoff is ready to return, which would be Sunday against the Canucks at the earliest. It would be doubtful that we see Danny Taylor in net before Kiprusoff's return unless it ends up being more of a long term thing than it's made out to be right now.
Minnesota Wild 8-7-2, 11th Western Conference
Zach Parise-Mikko Koivu-Charlie Coyle
Pierre-Marc Bouchard-Kyle Brodziak-Dany Heatley
Devin Setoguchi-Matt Cullen-Jason Zucker
Mike Rupp-Mikael Granlund-Torrey Mitchell
Ryan Suter-Jonas Brodin
Tom Gilbert-Justin Falk
Clayton Stoner-Jared Spurgeon
The Wild will be without Cal Clutterbuck once again, as he'll miss his second game with a thigh contusion. He was hit by Taylor Hall of the Oilers in a game over the weekend, a hit for which Hall was suspended two games. Coyle replaces Clutterbuck in the Wild lineup for a second straight game after scoring his first NHL goal Saturday in Calgary. Minnesota has liked Coyle this season, but he's spent more time in Houston of the AHL then with the big team.
The other player to watch is Brodin. The 19 year old defenseman is playing some of the toughest minutes on the team and is playing them well. He's third on the team in ice time, averaging more than 22 minutes per game. Watching him is a lot of fun, as he's a slick skater and is really creative when under pressure.
Otherwise, there isn't a ton to be excited about when talking about the Wild. They're the 29th highest scoring team in the league, averaging 2.06 goals per game. This comes after being 30th in that same category last year, averaging 2.02 goals per game. I guess that's what $200 million buys you: .04 goals per game.
Niklas Backstrom gets the start in net.