Last time the Minnesota Wild came to Calgary, the visitors were at a crossroads.
Heading into that mid-December home-and-home series, Minnesota was actually behind the Flames in the standings, coming off a one-sided home loss to the Ottawa Senators and questions abounded regarding the job status of head coach Todd Richards, whose squad had those clashes and a meeting with the Colorado Avalanche on deck before the Christmas break.
“I remember thinking, ‘Man, this is a huge stretch for us. These three games right here could be our season,’ ” Richards told the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
The Wild won all three games, and a few weeks later were in the Western Conference’s top eight, thanks to a lengthy run.
A month later, it’s the Flames staring at a crossroads as they prepare to play host to the Wild Wednesday night at the Saddledome.
The Flames are coming off a six-point, four-game road trip — as ugly as it was, that’s what two wins and two extra-time losses adds up to.
With five games on the docket before the all-star break — four at home — the Flames have a chance to actually pull close enough to the playoff picture to make it a conceivable goal.
Keep collecting points, and those playoff hopes, as dim as they seem, continue to burn.
Return to the losing side of the ledger more often than not, and the Flames can actually throw in the towel.
Recent history with the Wild hasn’t been kind to the Flames.
Minnesota has won three of the five meetings this season compiled a 9-2-1 mark in its last 11 games against the Flames.
Calgary’s powerplay has just two goals in 33 chances against Minny in the last 10 meetings at the Saddledome and Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom is 7-1-1 in his last nine decisions versus Calgary, holding a 1.22 goals-against average, a .958 save percentage, and two shutouts in those contests.
However, Minnesota arrives after playing Tuesday night in Edmonton and has a paltry 1-6-3 record in the second half games on consecutive nights this season.