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.