The Minnesota Wild and Calgary Flames are scheduled to drop the puck at the Saddledome in Alberta on Thursday night. This is the backend contest of a “home and home” between the Wild and Flames, with the Flames winning an exciting contest by a score of 5-4 on Sunday. It isn’t a true home and home because the Flames played the Blackhawks on Tuesday, but the Wild haven’t played since the loss.
The Flames have been heating up with wins in each of their previous three games after a pretty tough stretch. Calgary were winners in just two of six games before beating the Rangers, and then parlaying that into two more wins versus the Wild and Blackhawks. Despite the recent 6 points they were able to secure, the Flames are well off course compared to last season.
Calgary have some work to do if they want to defend their divisional title in the Pacific. Thanks to sluggish play from pretty well everyone else in the division, the Flames are only three games behind the Golden Knights and Coyotes for 1st. They’re currently in a tie with the Oilers at 51 points, and a point ahead of the Canucks. With that in mind, there are five teams within 4 points in the Pacific Division at the moment.
It’s really anybody’s division at this stage in the game, and there isn’t much talent separating these five teams. You could argue the Golden Knights, though good luck in Vegas if Marc-Andre Fleury isn’t playing up to his potential. The Knights crapped away a very winnable game on Tuesday night against the Penguins because of Fleury struggling. When all of the dust clears, the Flames may end up being atop the division after all.
The Flames head into Thursday with a record of 23-17-5, while the Wild are sitting at 20-17-6 in the Central Division with 46 points. Minnesota suffered through an anemic start to the season, but have since stabilized and have looked okay since. The Wild were losers in six of their first seven outings, and just four wins in their first fourteen outings in 2019-20. There hasn’t been much to celebrate recently, either. Head below for our free Wild vs. Flames pick.
Minnesota Wild vs. Calgary Flames Betting Odds:
Wild vs. Flames Prediction:
Devan Dubnyk was granted a personal leave on Tuesday, so he will not be making the trip to Calgary for this contest. Dubnyk left the team in mid-November for a month because of health complications. He will be off for an undisclosed amount of time, so Alex Stalock will return to operate as the full-time starting option for the Wild. He’s been getting a lot of work this season with Dubnyk mostly away from the team in 2019-20. Stalock has been playing like what he is, which is a backup goaltender. He owns a 3.06 GAA and 0.901 save percentage in 21 appearances this year. If all of his outings were at home, then that would certainly help his numbers.
Stalock has a 2.37 GAA and 0.918 save percentage at home as opposed to a 3.54 GAA and 0.89 save percentage. The Flames were able to hit Stalock for 4 goals on 37 shots in their most recent meeting. His home crease didn’t help in that one, as the Flames received production throughout their lineup from top to bottom. As a team, the Wild have been a difficult out in Minnesota, so it was a nice win for the Flames. The Wild hold a record of 11-4-6 at home, though that mark tanks when having to play outside of Xcel Energy Center. They enter Calgary at 9-13-2 on the season in 2019-20.
The goaltending and defence has struggled to generate much consistency as a visiting team. They’ve been exploited for 3.67 goals against per game on the road. There defence hasn’t been particularly good at home either, but it becomes a serious problem elsewhere. Overall, the Wild are 24th in the league with 3.3 goals allowed per game. Part of their issues in that regard are out of their control. Dubnyk is their starting goaltender and he hasn’t been able to play much. Stalock is a career backup trying to do his best in a role he isn’t used to. They did well back on December 23rd against the Flames in Minnesota, though it was a completely different story Sunday.
Calgary were able to avoid a six-game losing streak at the Saddledome recently. Flames’ season ticket holders were starting to forget what it was like to win at home for a minute there. This from a team who were unbeatable at home to open the season. They recorded at least a point in eight of their first nine games in Calgary. Prior to sliding at home, the Flames were on a four-game winning streak at the Saddledome. I’d like to think some positive variance kicks in for them again here. In any event, they should be able to handle the Wild for the second time in less than a week on Thursday.