Riding a three-game winning streak and on a 7-0-1 roll, the Minnesota Wild head into Saturday’s game against the host Calgary Flames having received another boost on trade deadline day.
The Wild on Friday acquired offensive defenseman John Klingberg from the Anaheim Ducks and forward Oskar Sundqvist from the Detroit Red Wings. A few days before, they also traded for a pair of forwards in Marcus Johansson — who played his first game for them in Vancouver on Thursday — and the injured Gustav Nyquist.
The Wild dispatched one roster player, under-achieving forward Jordan Greenway, to the Buffalo Sabres for a couple of draft picks.
“We’re serious about winning,” Wild general manager Bill Guerin said.
Minnesota has done plenty of winning of late thanks in big part to a couple of elements.
Defensively, they have been outstanding, all the way to a penalty kill that had been perfect through 12 games before surrendering a power-play goal to the Canucks in Minnesota’s 2-1 victory. Offensively, star forward Kirill Kaprizov has been lights out. He scored both goals in Vancouver, giving him eight goals and one assist in his past seven games.
Amazingly, all but one of the eight games in Minnesota’s run have been decided by one goal.
“It’s good that we’re going through this,” goalie Marc-Andre Fleury said. “I think every game will get a little tighter around the league. That’s essential to make playoffs and playoff hockey. That’s all it is, one-goal games a lot of times, and we feel comfortable playing those.”
The Flames are just outside a playoff spot, but they resisted any urge to make a major move in a last-ditch attempt to vault into the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Calgary, which is winless in four games and managed only two victories in its last nine (2-4-3), acquired offensive defenseman Troy Stecher and hulking forward Nick Ritchie from the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for defenseman Connor Mackey and forward Brett Ritchie. It’s the first time in NHL history a pair of brothers have been dealt for each other.
“It was clear we were not entertaining moving any ‘A’ assets, significant assets, for short-term gain,” general manager Brad Treliving said. “A lot of the deals that have happened, primarily … it’s been a rental market. You’ve seen significant assets for expiring contracts. Where we’re at, that was never an option for us. I do believe we’ve got a good team that’s under-performed for various reasons. We felt it was most prudent to work around the edges.”
The Flames also made a minor league swap by acquiring oft-traveled forward Dryden Hunt from Toronto for forward Radim Zohorna.
Whether the Flames can make a miracle run into the playoffs remains to be seen, but they’ve shown to be close. In their last two games, losses to league powers Boston and Toronto, they could have deservedly won but fell short and even surrendered leads.
“It’s honestly pretty incredible how many one-goal games we’ve lost this year,” forward Blake Coleman said. “The best way to sum it up and the only thing I can think of right now is we’re a great team that just doesn’t know how to win right now.”
Calgary has a 13-11-13 record in one-goal games, including a 5-13 mark in overtime games or shootouts.
–Field Level Media