Minnesota Wild Gameday Preview: Calgary Flames – 12/07/22

The Minnesota Wild are heading into a three-game road trip through western Canada that starts with the Calgary Flames tonight. They are finally picking up some momentum, riding a four-game win streak and climbing into third place in the Central Division above the injury-plagued Colorado Avalanche. The Wild’s last two wins both came down to the wire in a shootout, so they will be looking for a more complete effort tonight when they attempt to extend their streak to five.

Minnesota Wild Gameday Preview Kirill Kaprizov, Matthew Boldy, Jared Spurgeon, and Marc-Andre Fleury
Kirill Kaprizov, Matthew Boldy, Jared Spurgeon, and Marc-Andre Fleury (The Hockey Writers)

The Flames are at the end of a five-game homestand that included one loss. This will be the Wild’s first meeting with the new-look Flames roster that is very different from last season. With the key additions of Jonathan Huberdeau, Nazem Kadri, and MacKenzie Weegar not yet filling the massive holes left by the departures of Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk, the Flames have fallen to fifth in the Pacific Division. Don’t be fooled, though. The Flames’ lineup is packed with talent that can put together a very strong performance on any given night.

Wild Projected Lineup

Kirill Kaprizov – Sam Steel – Mats Zuccarello
Jordan Greenway – Joel Eriksson Ek – Marcus Foligno
Nic Petan – Frederick Gaudreau – Matt Boldy
Mason Shaw – Connor Dewar – Ryan Reeves

Jacob Middleton – Jared Spurgeon
Alex Goligoski – Matt Dumba
Jon Merrill – Calen Addison

Marc Andre Fleury – Filip Gustavsson

Related: 10 Wild Prospects You Need to Watch in 2022-23

The Wild’s lines will remain unchanged on the back of a four-game win streak as Jonas Brodin, Ryan Hartman, and Brandon Duhaime all remain out with injuries, while Marco Rossi continues to play with the Iowa Wild in the American Hockey League (AHL). With the recent success of the offensive lines, head coach Dean Evason may have some tough decisions ahead when those players return.

Flames Projected Lineup

Jonathan Huberdeau – Elias Lindholm – Tyler Toffoli
Dillon Dube – Nazem Kadri – Andrew Mangiapane
Adam Ruzicka – Mikael Backlund – Blake Coleman
Milan Lucic – Kevin Rooney – Trevor Lewis

Noah Hanifin – Rasmus Andersson
MacKenzie Weegar – Chris Tanev
Nikita Zadorov – Michael Stone

Daniel Vladar – Jacob Markstrom

3 Keys to the Game

“GREEF” Line Continues Return to Form

Early season injuries have kept the Wild from reuniting the dominating “GREEF” line of Eriksson Ek between Foligno and Greenway. Rotating those three through other lines has had little success, but as the trio finally gets healthy and reunited, they look primed to help return the Wild to their true identity.

Joel Eriksson-Ek Minnesota Wild
Joel Eriksson-Ek, Minnesota Wild (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

In the last three games since the GREEF line has been reunited, they have managed a Corsi-for percentage of 64.29 and a goals-for percentage of 66.67. Eriksson Ek had been playing his best hockey of the 2022-23 season, matching Kaprizov’s point production of three goals and two assists. Continued output at this level, while also being a key piece in shutting down the opponent’s top lines, could put Eriksson Ek in Selke Trophy talks.

Petan Needs to Elevate Play with Boldy & Gaudreau

There is currently no replacement for Kevin Fiala on the wing with Boldy and Gaudreau; however, Petan, the current fill-in, just isn’t working well enough. With the top line’s offense being carried by Kaprizov, the expectation is that most of the secondary scoring should come from Boldy’s line, but there are moments in every game that show Petan is not at the same level as his linemates.

He is a good, veteran player, but it is increasingly obvious that a younger, skilled winger could elevate that line to new heights. As of now, Petan is the obvious choice to come off the roster when someone returns from injury.

Goligoski Continues Covering for Injured Brodin

The start of the 2022-23 season was not great for Goligoski, to say the least. He had a few bad games to start and was a healthy scratch for two separate stretches of six games. He recently found his game after he was brought into the lineup for his 1000th contest celebration night as a seventh defenseman, had a great game, and promptly scored the overtime winner.

With Brodin suffering from an illness and then an injury, Goligoski has played in all six games since then, during which time the Wild have only lost once. Down their top shutdown defenseman, Goligoski has been able to step up and remind the team that he has played over 1000 NHL games for a reason.

Tonight’s match-up can be found on Bally Sports North and KFAN 100.3 FM starting at 7:00 PM CT.

*Player statistics collected from Naturalstattrick.comCalgary Flames lines from @Fan960Steinberg on Twitter, and Minnesota Wild lines from @JoeSmithNHL on Twitter.