Skip to main content

Flames-Wild Preview

  • Author:
  • Publish date:

Though the Minnesota Wild are in the playoffs and know their seeding, they are feeling some urgency to win their final game before the postseason gets underway.

Looking to end a four-game losing streak that's somewhat dampened the enthusiasm surrounding their run to a playoff berth, the Wild host the high-scoring Calgary Flames on Saturday night.

Minnesota's offensive struggles continued in a 3-0 home loss to San Jose on Tuesday, but it secured a berth when Colorado lost to Nashville later in the evening. The Wild (38-32-11) failed in their second chance to clinch with a win before getting help.

"We've got a lot of work that we need to do," forward Zach Parise said. "There's just some areas of our play that aren't good. That's inexcusable in Game 81. When we're trying to prepare for the playoffs, you can't play the last four games the way we have. That's just, right now that's not good."

The Wild had scored 14 goals in three games prior to the skid, but have managed five in the past four games.

Trying to maintain perspective was a priority for interim coach John Torchetti this week.

"How do you back into the playoffs going (15-10-1)?" Torchetti said, referencing the team's record since the dismissal of Mike Yeo in February. "You don't do that. The guys have done a great job. I'm proud of them. They could have folded when I got here, too, so I'm really proud of them."

Minnesota will be the eighth seed, though it will have to wait until the final day to find out whether it will travel to Dallas or St. Louis to open the first round.

The club might want to use its finale to work on special teams. The Wild have failed to score on their last 13 power plays and given up four power-play goals on eight chances over the past three games.

Scroll to Continue

SI Recommends

That could prove problematic against Calgary (34-40-7), which has scored 16 goals in a 2-0-1 stretch and gone 7 for 22 with the man advantage in the last six games. The Flames beat Vancouver 7-3 on Thursday behind Mikael Backlund's first NHL hat trick.

Backlund scored on a power play, at even strength and short-handed. He has a career-high 21 goals after scoring five times through his first 50 games, and has six goals in the last three.

The lopsided win in their home finale was bittersweet for Calgary, which is closing out a disappointing season after making the playoffs in 2014-15.

"It feels great to finish off the way we did," Backlund told the team's official website. "Everybody played well tonight and chipped in. We wanted to show appreciation for our fans. They've been with us the whole year even though it's been a tough year for us, not the year we expected for ourselves. It's a nice way to finish.

"Hopefully, next year we can bounce back and make a playoff push."

Ending the Wild's domination of the series would also be nice for the Flames. Minnesota has won six straight meetings and 11 of 14, including four in a row and six of seven at home.

The Wild got defenseman Jared Spurgeon back Tuesday after he missed two games with a lower-body injury, they'll be without forward Thomas Vanek through the start of the first round due to an upper-body injury he recently aggravated. Torchetti said after practice Friday that Vanek will be out ''more than a week,'' meaning he'll likely miss at least two postseason games.

Parise could also sit out Saturday to rest various bumps and bruises.

Calgary's Joe Colburne had a goal and two assists Thursday, giving him three and eight in his last six.