In the past two seasons in particular the Calgary Flames have completely owned the Minnesota Wild franchise. Last year it was Jarome Iginla who was a feared name in the heads of Minnesota players, but this season, it’s anyone wearing the flaming C that has the Wild seeing stars, and the red light behind their goal.
In the midst of a playoff and division hunt, the Flames and Wild tangled for the fourth time this season, the second time in less than a week, and no one could have expected how tonight’s game would unfold.
On The Line
For the Flames.. well, at the moment they’re in the drivers seat, with cruise control on. But looking forward to a seven game road trip starting next week, taking wins in this three game home stand leaves the team playing with high confidence, something that can only help the road fortunes.
For the Wild, it’s a much different story. Caught up in the log jam that is the Western Conference’s 6-10 spots, every point counts. Which makes how this game unfolded all the more surprising.
The first period started like you’d expect pretty much any contest involving the Minnesota Wild. It was boring to say the least. There isn’t much to talk about outside of the minute and a half of five on three opportunity that the Wild squandered; the Flames taking the opportunity to educate the Wild on how to completely neutralize a two man advantage limiting the Wild to just a single shot on goal.
The second period was the exact opposite of how you expect the Minnesota Wild to play. Just 17 seconds into the second period Jarome Iginla started a rush up ice, passed the puck to Craig Conroy who, streaking into the zone, created a two on one with Micheal Cammalleri, who made no mistake holding the puck until he had Backstrom at his mercy for his 31st of the season. Furthermore, the Wild followed that gaffe up by turning the puck over behind the net less than twenty seconds later, a mad scramble ensuing before the puck would be poked out to Dion Phaneuf, who blasted home his ninth, second in as many games. At that point it was game over for the Wild. Jamie Lundmark would continue filling the Wild net with frozen rubber discs with a Flaming C logo on one side and the NHL insignia on the other midway through the second as Cory Sarich made fun of Brian Campbell, showing how you do a spin-o-rama when you have no business doing so, backhanding a puck towards the net that Lundmark got a stick on and the Flames are up 3-0.
Faced with a 3-0 deficit entering the third period and no conceivable way to trap their way out of it, the Wild rolled over for the Flames to sit back and take the game, though the Flames were still looking for blood, as they outshot the Wild 13-5 in the final frame, netting the first power play goal of the season between the two clubs on Cammalleri’s second of the night in tight. The Wild would break Mikka Kiprusoff’s bid for his 5th shutout of the season near the end of the third as Marc Andre Bergeron would sneak a shot past Kiprusoff after a rare turnover in the Flames zone. Count it: 4-1 is your final.
The Iginla Watch
Iginla would get an assist on the Flames first goal, inching him one point closer to tying the always bitter Theoren Fleury for the franchise lead in points.
1. Micheal Cammalleri: Cammalleri notched his 31st and 32 goals of the season, and though he didn’t have to work too hard for them, he showed the touch of a scorer, waiting until he knew he had the goal before he shot.
2. David Moss: The Mossman prophecy fortold two goals tonight. Wreaking havoc in the Wild zone to create the eventual game winner.
3. Curtis Glencross: Was the Mossman’s sidekick all night creating mass panic and hysteria, hitting everything in sight, and playing peek-a-boo with Stephane Veilleux.
Timing is everything in the game of hockey. At one end you have the Flames going for the kill trying to get up 3-0 where Wild goaltender Nik Backstrom stoning Dustin Boyd on a point blank giveaway, then later at the other end of the ice Miikka Kiprusoff slides across to keep the Wild off the board on a Mikko Koivu chance in close. Have to go with the Kiprusoff save here, as it would have let the Wild back in the game had he not made that save.
There was a good amount of hitting in the game tonight, and some big splashes, but the hit to highlight, and for all the wrong reasons was Derek Boogaard going for Brandon Prust’s head late in the third when Prust didn’t have the puck. Cheap play from an otherwise useless player. Look for the NHL to review the hit.
This may be off the board, but tonight’s goat should be the irritating Kyle Clutterbuck. His antics, meant to antagonize the Flames into taking penalties, worked at first, but then he continued to ply his tricks getting called for unsportsmanlike conduct after he got shot by Dion Phanuef. His act becoming transparent to everyone involved in the game after that point, he was rendered useless and likely was a rallying point for the Flames in the second period.
The Mossman, who owns by the way, owns this title tonight. Moss was an absolute nightmare for the Wild all night. His tenacious forecheck, presence on the power-play and penalty kill contributions will have the Wild looking over their shoulders for the number 25 in red for weeks to come.
Odds and Ends
Very surprising game from the Wild. It’s not unusual for the Flames to beat them, especially in Calgary, since Minnesota only has something like three wins in the ‘Dome in franchise history, but for a team in the thick of one of the most contentious playoff races we’ve seen in years, they don’t have a lot of drive. If they make the dance, expect them to make sure they don’t end up in the six seed. It’ll be over before the final tick of the regular season for the Wild….The trio last seen in the pre-season featuring David Moss, Curtis Glencross, and Dustin Boyd was finally put together by Mike Keenan. It’s understandable that it took so long, because Boyd hasn’t proven to be effective much beyond his usual fourth line minutes, but holy cow was that line effective tonight. Not only that but the addition of David Van der Gulik, a call-up from Quad Cities replacing Kyle Greentree, filled his role perfectly, and formed a trio of hate with Brandon Prust and Eric Nystrom. Van der Gulik’s near 10 minutes of ice-time gives evidence to his wanting to show he should stay with the big club a little longer. Just needs to get the puck off his stick a little quicker with the scoring chances he gets…Kyle Clutterbuck is an irritant, but his repeated dives are too much. You’ll be typecast as Sean Avery playing a game like that. For someone who leads the league in hits to be unable to take a hit himself.. the refs are going to notice that. He got lucky the first time, but the second time he tried the same shenanigans.. he deserved what he got.
The Flames wrap up the homestand before the aforementioned 7 game trip on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Game time is 6PM MT and you can watch the action on Sportsnet West in HD!
Lines (To Start):
Cammalleri – Conroy – Iginla
Lundmark – Lombardi – Bertuzzi
Glencross – Boyd – Moss
Van der Gulik – Prust – Nystrom
Phaneuf – Vandermeer
Regehr – Aucoin
Sarich – Pardy