CALGARY, AB -- With a 4-1-1 record in their last six games, the Minnesota Wild are rapidly approaching the expectations bestowed on them in the offseason.
Projected to be one of the top teams in the Western Conference after identical 13-year, $98 million contracts to Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, the Wild are starting to live up to the billing thanks to that duo and some impressive goaltending of late by starter Niklas Backstrom.
If there’s an area of improvement for the Wild, it’s their play away from the Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul. Minnesota is just 2-4-1 on the road this season, something they’ll look to improve at the expense of the Calgary Flames.
The Wild have already found success at Scotiabank Saddledome in the form of a 2-1 shootout win earlier in the month.
Goalie - MIN
GAA: 2.28 | SVP: 0.917
Winning three of his last four games and allowing just five goals over that span, Backstrom has been one of the league’s hottest goaltenders since being pulled over a week ago against the Vancouver Canucks. The 35-year-old now has a 2.28 goals against average and .917 save percentage this season and is 6-1-0 with three shutouts in his last eight starts against the Flames.
Center - MIN
GOALS: 1 | ASST: 1 | PTS: 2
SOG: 21 | +/-: -6
Though not necessarily known for his offensive prowess, Brodziak quietly put together a 22-goal season a year ago. Unfortunately for the 28-year-old, he hasn’t been able to replicate things this season. Brodziak has just one goal this season. Brodziak, who also had 44 points in 2011-12, has just one point in his last 15 games.
THREE PLAYERS TO WATCH
Coming off his biggest offensive outburst of the season against the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday, Cullen is quietly piecing together a strong season with three goals and nine points in 16 games after a 35-point campaign a year ago – his worst offensive output in six seasons.
In his first year of North American hockey, Brodin has had a calming impact on the Wild defence. Averaging nearly 22 minutes of action – third-most of any Minnesota skater – the 19-year-old Swede has given the Wild a top-four presence playing primarily with offseason catch Ryan Suter.
The older brother of Calgary Flames prospect Markus Granlund, Mikael is still finding his way in his rookie season in North America. A former first round pick, the 20-year-old Granlund has the potential to be a Northwest Division pest for seasons to come despite just one goal this season.
BY THE NUMBERS
Minnesota’s Record This Season: 8-6-2
Minnesota’s Record Last Season: 35-36-11 (12th in Western Conference)
Calgary’s Record This Season: 5-7-3
Calgary’s Record vs. Minnesota All-Time: 39-19-4-7
Wild Scoring Leaders: CLICK HERE
Flames Scoring Leaders: CLICK HERE