Flames vs. Canucks: A Brief Playoff History

The Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks have been the best of friends since the Flames moved from Atlanta in 1980. It didn’t take long for them to take the relationship to the next level, in the form of a series of playoff battles that cemented that friendship into something special: pure, abject hatred for one another.

The teams have battled one another six times in the Stanley Cup playoffs, including three times in three years. All of their meetings have been in the opening round of the playoffs. Following four of these meetings, the winner has gone on to the Stanley Cup Final – twice each for Calgary and Vancouver.

Here’s a brief look back at the most interesting rivalry in the NHL that doesn’t yet have a name.

1982 Smythe Division Semis

Vancouver finished second in the Smythe, Calgary finished third.

  • 5-3 Vancouver
    VAN: Smyl, Boldirev, Lindgren, Molin (GWG), Lupul; Brodeur 22 saves
    CGY: Bridgman (x2), Plett; Riggin 30 saves
  • 2-1 Vancouver (OT)
    VAN: Crawford, Williams (GWG); Brodeur 39 saves
    CGY: Houston; Riggin 38 saves
  • 3-1 Vancouver
    VAN: Gradin (x2), Williams (GWG); Brodue 42 saves
    CGY: Peplinski; Riggin 21 saves

3-0 Vancouver sweep. They went on to beat Los Angeles and Chicago in subsequent rounds before losing to the New York Islanders in 4 games in the Stanley Cup Final.

1983 Smythe Division Semis

Calgary finished second in the Smythe, Vancouver finished third.

  • 4-3 Calgary (OT)
    CGY: Chouinard, Russell, Peplinski, Beers (GWG); Edwards 20 saves, Lemelin 10 saves
    VAN: Smyl, Lupul, Halward; Brodeur 34 saves
  • 5-3 Calgary
    CGY: McDonald (x2), Konroyd, Jackson (GWG), Bridgman; Lemelin 21 saves
    VAN: Gradin, Hlinka, Lindgren; Brodeur 18 saves
  • 5-4 Vancouver
    VAN: Snepsts, Lanz (x2), McCarthy, Smyl (GWG); Garrett 26 saves
    CGY: Nilsson, Lavallee, Dunn, Bridgman; Lemelin 33 saves
    Smyl scores with 57 seconds left in regulation to avoid overtime.
  • 4-3 Calgary (OT)
    CGY: Meredith (x2, GWG), Risebrough, T.Hunter; Lemelin 32 saves
    VAN: Kirton, Smyl, Butcher; Brodeur 21 saves

3-1 Calgary win. They went on to lose to Edmonton in the next round in 5 games.

1984 Smythe Division Semis

Calgary finished second in the Smythe, Vancouver finished third.

  • 5-3 Calgary
    CGY: Patterson, Eaves, Bozek, Loob (GWG), Risebrough; Lemelin 32 saves
    VAN: Gillis, Smyl, Tanti; Brodeur 20 saves, Garrett 4 saves
  • 4-2 Calgary
    CGY: Peplinski, Eaves, MacInnis (GWG), Risebrough; Lemelin 32 saves
    VAN: Williams, Gillis; Brodeur 42 saves
  • 7-0 Vancouver
    VAN: Belland (GWG), Halward (x3), Delorme, Neely (x2); Brodeur 15 saves
    CGY: none; Lemelin 14 saves, Edwards 13 saves
  • 5-1 Calgary
    CGY: Reinhart (x3), Loob (GWG), Jackson; Edwards 28 saves
    VAN: Smyl; Brodeur 25 saves

3-1 Calgary win. They went on to lose to Edmonton in the next round in 7 games.

1989 Smythe Division Semis

Calgary finished first in the Smythe, Vancouver finished fourth.

  • 4-3 Vancouver (OT)
    VAN: Adams, Nordmark, Striko, Reinhart (GWG); McLean 43 saves
    CGY: M.Hunter, Mullen, Macoun; Vernon 27 saves
  • 5-2 Calgary
    CGY: Otto, Patterson, Fleury (GWG), Gilmour, Loob; Vernon 23 saves
    VAN: Adams, Bradley; McLean 24 saves, Weeks 8 saves
  • 4-0 Calgary
    CGY: Loob (x2, GWG), Nieuwendyk, Mullen; Vernon 21 saves
    VAN: none; McLean 11 saves
  • 5-3 Vancouver
    VAN: Bradley, Bridgman, Linden, Nordmark, Reinhart (GWG); Weeks 27 saves
    CGY: Fleury, Nieuwendyk, Otto; Vernon 16 saves, Wamsley 8 saves
  • 4-0 Calgary
    CGY: Nieuwendyk (GWG), M.Hunter, Loob, Mullen; Vernon 18 saves
    VAN: none; Weeks 36 saves
  • 6-3 Vancouver
    VAN: Linden, Sandlak, Sutter (x2), Butcher (GWG), Bradley; McLean 29 saves
    CGY: MacInnis, Peplinski, Loob; Vernon 19 saves
  • 4-3 Calgary (OT)
    CGY: Nieuwendyk, Roberts, Mullen, Otto (GWG); Vernon 42 saves
    VAN: Nordmark, Linden, Lidster; McLean 42 saves
    One of the most famous games in Flames history, featuring an end-to-end overtime where Stan Smyl was robbed by Mike Vernon, leading to Joel Otto’s game-winning goal at the other end.

4-3 Calgary win. They went on to beat Los Angeles and Chicago before beating Montreal in six games in the Stanley Cup Final.

1994 Western Conference Quarters

Calgary finished second in the West, Vancouver finished seventh.

  • 5-0 Vancouver
    VAN: Bure (GWG), Running, Babych, Linden, Brown; McLean 31 saves
    CGY: none; Vernon 23 saves
  • 7-5 Calgary
    CGY: Nieuwendyk (x2), Sullivan, MacInnis (x2), Fleury (GWG), Titov; Vernon 23 saves
    VAN: Brown, Courtnall, Ronning, Gelinas, Linden; McLean 27 saves
  • 4-2 Calgary
    CGY: Walz, Fleury (x2), Roberts (GWG); Vernon 26 saves
    VAN: Momesso, Adams; McLean 23 saves
  • 3-2 Calgary
    CGY: Stern, Walz, Fleury (GWG); Vernon 42 saves
    VAN: Gelinas, Linden; McLean 25 saves
  • 2-1 Vancouver (OT)
    VAN: Bure, Courtnall (GWG); McLean 21 saves
    CGY: Titov; Vernon 30 saves
  • 3-2 Vancouver (OT)
    VAN: Diduck, Charbonneau, Linden (GWG); McLean 30 saves
    CGY: Roberts, Walz; Vernon 22 saves
  • 4-3 Vancouver (2OT)
    VAN: Bure (x2, GWG), Courtnall, Adams; McLean 46 saves
    CGY: Fleury (x2), Stern; Vernon 31 saves

4-3 Vancouver win. They went on to beat Dallas and Toronto before losing to the New York Rangers in seven games in the Stanley Cup Final.

2004 Western Conference Quarters

Vancouver finished third in the West, Calgary finished sixth.

  • 5-3 Vancouver
    VAN: Rucinsky, Salo, H.Sedin, Ohlund (GWG), Morrison; Cloutier 26 saves
    CGY: Simon, Saprykin, Oliwa; Kiprusoff 17 saves
  • 2-1 Calgary
    CGY: Iginla, Lombardi (GWG); Kiprusoff 25 saves
    VAN: Naslund; Cloutier 22 saves
  • 2-1 Vancouver
    VAN: Naslund, Cooke (GWG); Hedberg 19 saves, Cloutier 11 saves
    CGY: Simon; Kiprusoff 23 saves
  • 4-0 Calgary
    CGY: Yelle (GWG), Clark, Donovan, Iginla; Kiprusoff 20 saves
    VAN: none; Hedberg 28 saves
  • 2-1 Calgary
    CGY: Conroy, Iginla (GWG); Kiprusoff 32 saves
    VAN: H.Sedin; Auld 18 saves
  • 5-4 Vancouver (3OT)
    VAN: Ruutu, D.Sedin, May, Sanderson, Morrison (GWG); Auld 36 saves
    CGY: Saprykin, Nieminen, Gelinas, Clark; Kiprusoff 47 saves
  • 3-2 Calgary (OT)
    CGY: Iginla (x2), Gelinas (GWG); Kiprusoff 26 saves
    VAN: Cooke (x2); Auld 25 saves

4-3 Calgary win. They went on to beat Detroit and San Jose before losing to Tampa Bay in seven games in the Stanley Cup Final.

  • mk

    A quick correction about the article: near the end there, it should be “They went on to beat Detroit and San Jose before winning against Tampa Bay in six games in the Stanley Cup Final because the damn puck was in.” 😛

    Otherwise, neat to hear the history – I hope that this can be a more regular thing (meeting in the playoffs). Always good to have a nice rivalry to spice the early rounds up. 😀

  • mk

    Ahh, so many memories – both painful and joyful.

    Unfortunately only have vague memories of the ’89 run as a six-year old, though I do remember the clinching game vs. the Habs, the joyous parade that followed, and the glorious Calgary Herald headline with Lanny hoisting the cup the next day.

    I do have a clear memory of the 11-year old version of me crying after Bure’s OT goal in ’94 (three straight OT losses – WTF!). And of course, as a University student (by this time living in Ontario ) the ’04 run was magical, and particularly awesome watching Gelinas bury his old team. Maybe Raymond can do the same this year?

    This has easily surpassed the Oilers rivalry, who we haven’t played in the playoffs in 24 years. Heck, how many times have the two Alberta teams been in the playoffs in the same year in the last 20 years – twice?

    I hate the Canucks, and as grateful as I am for this season and that I want to say anything from here on in is just gravy, every fibre in my body wants the Flames to beat the Canucks… losing to them would hurt even this year, and beating them would put an exclamation mark on an unforgettable season.
    GO FLAMES GO!

  • Howie Meeker

    What impresses me most about this year’s edition of our flames is the maturity and work like attitude of the entire group. Regardless of this year’s playoff outcome a very solid core group is emerging. This is only the beginning of great things to come for this organization.

  • Truculence

    “4-3 Calgary win. They went on to beat Detroit and San Jose before losing to Tampa Bay in seven games in the Stanley Cup Final.”

    My man, they did not lose to Tampa in seven. Flames won in 6.

  • Truculence

    1994. Absolutely gutting.

    Up 3-1 and than to lose 2 games in overtime before the final dagger of seeing Zalapski and Yawney split like they were standing still and Vernie completely pwned. That was the last straw, went down stairs, threw my Flames jerseys from the ceiling on the floor and ripped my Fleury Fire on Ice poster off the wall. Temper tantrum. .the things you do when you’re 13..

  • CutterMcAwesome

    So the last 3 times Vancouver and Calgary have met in the playoffs, the series has gone to Game 7 overtime, with the winner going on to the Stanley Cup finals.

    Interesting…