|NHL Preview: Minnesota Wild at Calgary Flames|
|Written by Anthony Rome|
|Wednesday, 24 October 2007 03:12|
The Minnesota Wild haven't scored much this season, and may be missing one of their top offensive threats as they start a tough road stretch against Northwest Division foes.
Oft-injured Pavol Demitra could be sidelined on Wednesday night when the Wild meet the Calgary Flames at Pengrowth Saddledome.
Demitra has missed an average of nearly 14 games per season since last playing a full 82-game slate in 2001-02 with St. Louis. He had two assists in the first period of a 3-2 win over Colorado on Sunday, but didn't play the final 10 minutes of the contest.
The Wild's official Web site on Tuesday said Demitra is day-to-day with a strained adductor muscle, but that he made the road trip which includes stops at Edmonton on Thursday and at Colorado on Sunday.
With three goals and five assists, Demitra is tied with Brian Rolston for the team scoring lead. Last season, Demitra had just two goals in the eight-game season series versus the Flames, but both tallies came in Calgary.
Minnesota (7-0-1) is off to the best start in franchise history despite not having scored more than three goals in any game this season.
"It's good for the team and it's good for our self-confidence for the rest of the year. But still, it's just eight games," said Mikko Koivu, who scored the game-winner Sunday with just over three minutes to play.
Niklas Backstrom, who is second in the league with a 1.48 goals-against average this season for the Wild, has given up five of his nine total goals on the road. In seven career games - six starts - against the Flames, Backstrom is 2-1-1 with a 1.76 GAA and a shutout.
"We try to play the same game whether we are home or on the road," Backstrom said. "That was something we struggled with at the beginning of last season so that's what we've been focusing on now - getting the points on the road."
The Wild started last season 4-15-1 on the road, but finished with a 19-19-3 record.
Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Calgary -133 money line favorites (NHL Odds) for today's game, the over/under has been set at 5 goals (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 64% of bets for this game have been placed on Calgary -133 (View NHL Bet Percentages).
Calgary (4-3-2), which is playing the fourth of a season-high seven-game homestand, will try to bounce back from its first loss in regulation. Daymond Langkow tallied his eighth goal on Monday, but the Flames dropped a 4-1 decision to San Jose.
"We weren't good enough," Calgary captain Jarome Iginla said. "We look at ourselves and we know that wasn't even close. By no means did we deserve to be in that game. This is going to sting for a little bit, but we'll get ready for the next game."
Despite three two-goal games, Langkow is two behind Los Angeles' Michael Cammalleri for the league lead. The Flames center didn't score his ninth goal last season until Calgary's 28th game, a 5-2 home win over Minnesota on Dec. 12.
Three of Langkow's four goals against Minnesota last season came at home.
Miikka Kiprusoff stopped 15 of 18 shots in the loss to the Sharks, and was replaced for the first time this season by rookie Curtis McElhinney.
Kiprusoff is 4-3-2 with a 3.18 GAA in 2007-08, continuing his career-long trend of slow starts. In 41 career games in October, including 38 starts, he's 14-19-5 with one tie and a 3.03 GAA. In every other month, he has a winning record and a GAA no higher than 2.26.
The 2005-06 Vezina Trophy winner is 8-1-0 with a tie, two shutouts and a 1.48 GAA in 10 home starts against the Wild, although he's never faced them in October.
The Flames are in second place in the Northwest, five points behind Minnesota.
by: Staff Writers - Email Us
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