Wild-Flames Preview

Already well acquainted with early playoff exits, the Calgary
Flames are now suffering through a different kind of
disappointment.

After getting eliminated from postseason contention, the Flames
play their home finale Thursday night against the slumping
Minnesota Wild.

Calgary (40-31-9) has lost in the first round of the playoffs
each of the last four seasons, but the Flames won’t get a chance to
snap that skid this spring. They were mathematically eliminated
from the playoff chase after a 2-1 loss to San Jose on Tuesday
night, missing the postseason for the first time since 2003.

“We all feel like we failed and we did fail,” captain Jarome
Iginla said. “First of all, our goal was to get to the playoffs.
That’s not an easy accomplishment. There are good teams that are
out and are over .500.”

Like the Flames, Iginla has fallen short of expectations. He
leads the team with 32 goals and 37 assists but will finish well
shy of the 89 points he put up last season. He has been held to one
goal and four assists over his last 14 games, with Calgary going
7-7-0.

The Wild (37-36-7) also will miss the playoffs, and they played
like it in their last game, a 4-1 loss at NHL-worst Edmonton.

“We didn’t have a lot of energy,” coach Todd Richards said. “It
was pretty flat. We had some guys show up, I thought (Mikko)
Koivu’s line was good. But on the back end we had turnovers that
led to easy chances for them and left our goaltender out to
dry.”

The Wild have dropped four straight, one shy of their longest
losing streak of the season set from Oct. 8-17.

“It was a disappointing game,” said Andrew Brunette, who scored
Minnesota’s lone goal. “It’s tough playing this time of year when
there isn’t much to play for. We are in a bit of a slide and it is
tough to get out of it.”

Minnesota, though, has had some success against Calgary this
season, going 4-1-0 in the series and 2-0-0 at the Saddledome. The
Wild were 3-18-1 with three ties in Calgary entering 2009-10.

Brunette, who has scored in consecutive games to pull within two
of matching his career high of 27 goals, has four goals and an
assist in his last seven games against the Flames. Niklas Backstrom
has gone 3-1-0 with a 1.49 goals-against average against them this
season.

Calgary scored five goals in its lone win against Minnesota this
season, getting a hat trick and an assist from Iginla. But the
Flames have been held to five total goals in the four defeats, with
Iginla totaling one assist.

Minnesota closes the season with a home game against Dallas on
Saturday, while Calgary finishes at Vancouver later that night.