The Wild has found a groove lately, picking up points in four of its last five games, but coach Bruce Boudreau reminded his team about the importance of avoiding a letdown Tuesday against the Flames – the start of a three-game homestand after a successful three-game road trip.
“I’ve mentioned it three times already,” Boudreau said at Xcel Energy after the team’s morning skate. “I’ll mention it twice again before the game starts. All we can do is make them aware and hope they come to play.”
Home ice, however, looks like it could be just the backdrop the Wild needs to continue its rhythm. The Wild has gone 5-0-1 at Xcel Energy Center since Nov.14, its longest point streak at home since it went 8-0 Nov.23-Dec.29 of last season.
“We had a lot of success on the road, and, sure, the mindset is always a little different when we come home versus on the road,” captain Mikko Koivu said. “But still, the game is the same and you want to play the same way that you're supposed to play. It sounds like a cliché, but that's what it is.
“I think we've been able to stay with it, and there was ups and downs through that trip. But we were pretty even-keeled and when we do that, we always have a chance to win. So we need to bring that home.”
After hosting the Flames, the Maple Leafs visit Thursday and then the Oilers stop by for a matinee Saturday before the Wild goes to Chicago to complete a back-to-back against the Blackhawks Sunday.
Boudreau hopes defenseman Jared Spurgeon, who’s been sidelined since Nov.27 with a groin strain, is an option to play at some point this week.
“I think you’ll find in the next couple days or the next day, even tomorrow, Spurge will probably be rejoining us in practice,” Boudreau said.
As for winger Zach Parise, who’s on the mend from back surgery, he continues to skate and is working with pucks.
“He feels great talking to him today,” Boudreau said. “There’s no pain. So I don’t know when his due date is to play, but I’m sure it’s sooner than later.”
Jason Zucker-Mikko Koivu-Charlie Coyle
Nino Niederreiter-Eric Staal-Mikael Granlund
Daniel Winnik-Joel Eriksson Ek-Chris Stewart
Marcus Foligno-Matt Cullen-Zack Mitchell
Ryan Suter- Matt Dumba
Jonas Brodin-Ryan Murphy
Gustav Olofsson-Nate Prosser
3: Points for defenseman Ryan Suter the last time the Wild faced the Flames – a 4-2 win Oct.21.
4: Straight wins for the Wild in extra time.
6: Three-point games for center Eric Staal since he joined the Wild.
9-7: Calgary’s record against the Western Conference.
21: Scoring chances generated by Flames center Sam Bennett over the last 16 games – a team-high.
About the Flames:
The Flames have won two straight, improving to 2-2-1 over their last five games. Before getting by the Canucks 4-2 Saturday, Calgary edged Montreal 3-2 in overtime. While most of the roster remained intact over the offseason, the Flames did make some notable changes. They acquired goalie Mike Smith to be their starter and beefed up their blue line by adding Travis Hamonic. The team also brought in veteran star Jaromir Jagr, but he’s been limited to just 17 games due to injury.
“When they get everybody playing, they've got six defensemen that can play and they can throw four lines out there,” Boudreau said. “And when Mike Smith is on top of his game, they get very difficult to beat. It's something that if we want to make the playoffs, we have to beat these guys and put everybody that's ahead of us behind us.”