Calgary Flames (+158) at Minnesota Wild (-175)
One of the hottest teams in the NHL hits the ice tonight when the Minnesota Wild (42-25-7, 91 pts) host the Calgary Flames (40-27-7, 87 pts) at the Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul (8:00 p.m. Eastern).
The Wild have won seven of their last ten games, including three in a row over the Blues, the Leafs, and, most recently, the Islanders. The win streak has Minnesota sitting in the first Wild Card spot in the Western Conference, one point up on Winnipeg with a game in hand.
The Wild can credit their defensive game for the recent uptick; they have given up two goals or fewer in six of the last eight games.
“Certainly it starts with him [goalie Devan Dubnyk] but the game that our defensemen play, how important that is, it’s huge just in terms of how they execute with the puck and their ability to play on the other side of it, to be in a good position and defend quickly,” said coach Mike Yeo.
Calgary, meanwhile, just fell out of a playoff spot after dropping a shootout to the Dallas Stars on Wednesday. They have 87 points – which is one back of L.A. for the third and final postseason berth in the Pacific Division and three back of Winnipeg for the final Wild Card slot.
Calgary battled back from 2-0 and 3-2 deficits against the Stars, but couldn’t beat Kari Lehtonen in the skills competition. Usually reliable on defense, giveaways played a big part in putting Calgary down early.
“Obviously we have to limit those turnovers, especially in key games like this but it’s part of the game, mistakes are part of it but we just have to make sure we’re better in those areas,” Calgary winger Lance Bouma said.
Tonight’s game is the third meeting of the season between the Wild and Flames. Minny came out on top in the first two and they are -175 favorites to pick up another two points. The Flames are +158 to pull the upset. The over/under is at five.
Calgary has lost four of its last six and it looks like the absence of star defenseman Mark Giordano is finally starting to catch up with them. The Wild at -175 isn’t great value, but it’s probably the best available.
(Photo credit: Resolute (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo may appear cropped.)