Minnesota Wild (7-0-1: 15 points, 1st in Western Conference, 1st in Northwest Division) at
Calgary Flames (4-3-2: 10 points, T-4th in Western Conference, T-2nd in Northwest Division)
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The Minnesota Wild will take its 7-0-1 record on the road once again tonight when it faces the Calgary Flames at the Pengrowth Saddledome. The Wild won the last time it played in Calgary back on March 11 – only the third win in 18 games at the building with the sunken ceiling.
The Wild played its one home game in an 18-day span on Sunday and earned a 3-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche. Mark Parrish and Brian Rolston bagged power play goals in the second period before Mikko Koivu scored the game-winner late in the third period. Niklas Backstrom earned the win after stopping 29 of 31 shots.
The Flames had won four of five games before getting bounced at home by the San Jose Sharks, 4-1. Daymond Langkow was the only Flame to score.
It should come as no surprise that Rolston is tied for the team lead in scoring with three goals and five assists. Since joining the Wild, Rolston has torn it up in the month of October, playing 31 games and has averaged nearly a point per contest with 14 goals and 16 assists. He has scored a goal in three of the last four games.
Wild keys to the game
1. Take Advantage: The Wild hasn’t just struggled against the Flames in Calgary, but against Miikka Kiprusoff in any building. In 20 games against Minnesota, Kiprusoff boasts a 1.62 goals against average and a .920 save percentage. But Kipper is struggling this year with a 3.18 goals against average and a .884 save percentage. By the time these two clubs face each other again on November 3, it’s likely that Kiprusoff will have righted himself.
2. No Demo: Pavol Demitra missed Tuesday’s practice in Calgary due to a strained adductor, but did skate with the team at the morning skate. If Demitra cannot go, Marian Gaborik will have a new winger on the opposite side. Gaborik has struggled to get on track with just one goal thus far this season.
3. And There’s That Guy Again: It wouldn’t be a Wild-Flames preview without touching on the biggest Wild-killer out there: Jarome Iginla. Iginla is the all-time leading scorer against the Wild with 36 points (21-15=36) in 35 games. Number two on the list is Milan Hejduk with 31 points.
Keep An Eye On
The Wild’s struggles against Iginla and Kiprusoff are well-documented, but there is another Flame who has tormented Minnesota, but not so much on the scoresheet. Dion Phaneuf, the nasty and big defenseman with offensive skills, has made life miserable for Wild forwards. He’s tough to get around, always looking to make a hit and not above a quick punch to the chops after the whistle every now and then.
Probable Wild Line Combos
If Demitra can’t play, there could be some juggling of lines, which Jacques Lemaire will have no problem with: