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Photo Credit: Candice Ward / USA Today Sports

Flames to play Ducks in first round playoff matchup, starts April 13

Just two short years ago, the Calgary Flames faced their latest playoff opponent: the Anaheim Ducks.

After defeating the Vancouver Canucks six games in the first round, the 2014-15 Flames quickly met their end at the hands of the Ducks. While the Canucks series had been tight and aggressive, the second round wasn’t even comparable. The Ducks outmatched the Flames in virtually every way, and were it not for a dramatic Game 3 – Sam Bennett getting Martin Gelinas’d, Johnny Gaudreau tying the game with seconds to go, Mikael Backlund scoring the overtime winner on a delayed penalty call – they probably would have been swept.

No matter how you slice it, though, they didn’t have a chance.

This year might be different.

The Flames won 45 games this season; the Ducks won 46. The Flames have a 5v5 CF of 50.55%; the Ducks had 49.65% through 81 games. On the other hand, the Ducks did have a +23 goal differential while the Flames managed just +5 – and the Ducks’ GF of 53.16% (through 81 games) is noticeably better than the Flames’ 49.12%.

Let’s put it this way: the Ducks are still favoured to win the series. They’re the division winners and they beat the Flames four out of five times this season, outscoring them 17-14. The Flames’ win? That totally unexpected and very fun 8-3 contest in which they scored five goals in six minutes out of nowhere. If you need to find some way to get hyped:

But just because the Ducks are the favourites doesn’t mean they’ll win. The games are played for a reason, after all. And the Flames are further along than they were two years ago – much further – so they may yet have a chance.

Certainly more of one than they had in 2015, at least.

Time to go back to Disneyland!

Per the NHL, the official schedule (all times MT):

  • Game 1: Thursday, April 13 at Anaheim, 8:30 p.m. – CBC, NBCSN, TVA Sports
  • Game 2: Saturday, April 15 at Anaheim, 8:30 p.m. – CBC, NBCSN, TVA Sports
  • Game 3: Monday, April 17 at Calgary, 8 p.m. – CBC, NBCSN, TVA Sports
  • Game 4: Wednesday, April 19 at Calgary, 8 p.m. – CBC, USA, TVA Sports
  • Game 5: Friday, April 21 at Anaheim (TBD)
  • Game 6: Sunday, April 23 at Calgary (TBD)
  • Game 7: Tuesday, April 25 at Anaheim (TBD)
  • RKD

    Just saw it, the Kings couldn’t score on the Ducks to help us out. We must slay the dragon and beat the Ducks in Anaheim even just once would be enough but will probably take more. It’s going to be a much tighter series this year.

    • aye

      Gotta give props to the Oilers, playing well and challenging for the division title all the way to the bitter end. Also a bunch of their guys are heating up too, Lucic with a hat trick couple of days ago, and Eberle with a hat trick tonight to get to 20. They should do well against a Sharks team that only has 6 wins (including the meaningless one last game vs the Flames) against playoff teams in 2017.
      Flames on the other hand hasn’t been good the last 10 games. Just hope they are ready to play and snap the curse in their first trip, or they might not even see a second trip back.

  • The Sultan

    Flames in 6. We have Backlund, Frolik, Gio, Hamilton, Tkachuk, Elliot, Ferland on the first line, Stone, Chiasson, BROUWER, plus Benny, Mony and Johnny have more experience.

  • Temple

    Should be a good series – not sure if Edmonton would have been the better match-up in the first round. A good test of the young guys , in any event, and time for Brouwer to earn his paycheque!

    • Burning Ring of Fire

      At this point Brouwer (aka Ghost) would have to carry the team on his shoulders through the playoffs and score the Stanley Cup wining goal to earn his paycheque – lots of ground to make up. It’s no wonder the guy never gets injured.

  • Nighteyes

    The Ducks play a boring, old school trench warfare style system with Carlyle at the helm. If the Flames can dismantle that by sticking to their own speed game we have a fighting chance.

  • Danoilerfanincalgary

    Good luck to the Flames and their fans hope they advance along with the Oilers for a BOA by advancement. Good years by both teams no matter what.

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    The beautiful thing about streaks is they can disappear in a hurry. If the Flames win the first game in Anaheim, the 25 games of futility means nothing. The Ducks and their fans think they just need to show up. The Flames have 2 difference makers in Johnny and MT that could change the tide.

    • aye

      What? Getzlaf and Kesler aren’t difference makers? What about Rakell, Perry, Silfverberg? There are plenty of Ducks to be concerned about. The advantage for the Flames might be that they don’t have too much pressure as they are a heavy underdog.

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    I would like to see Johnny find his scoring touch. I realize that Johnny plays on a line with 2 of the best shots but he needs to think…shoot first.
    The Ducks will try to get Ferland to take dumb penalties. MT could be the wild card since we have not had a player with this ilk since Theo.

    • deantheraven

      JH has been shooting more lately, although without success but he’s looked hungry. This is good, and all good things come to those who are awesomely talented and hungry.

    • deantheraven

      Ferland, Bennett AND Tkachuk (And Engelland, Giordano, Hamilton, Bartkowski, Brouwer, Versteeg) drop Pestler and Parry, not or. The flames need to make it rough on those two when they need to and fast on the Ducks defense when they are able to.

  • Jessemadnote

    Who have we since we last played the ducks in the playoffs? Gio, Dougie, Frolik, Tkachuk and Elliot. Pretty massive upgrade. This series should go longer than some think.

    • The Doctor

      I agree we’re a much improved team from that one that faced the Ducks two years ago. Predictions are always tough, but based on that I will not be surprised to see us win at least two games in this series. I also think playing the Ducks at least 4 times consecutively will help us come up with and execute better game plans than what we did against them in the regular season.

  • Atomic Clown

    I can’t believe I’m saying this but I honestly wish every Canadian team the best in the playoffs. I hope the oilers beat the sharks, I hope the Canadiens beat the rangers, I hope the senators beat the bruins, and the leafs get past the capitals. The Ovechkin fan in me would like to see him lift the cup, but may the best team win

  • HabaneroHOUSE

    The way the Flames played against the LA Kings this past week is why Anaheim should be concerned. That was scary puck movement on the Flames’ part. Not even Anaheim plays that hard and quick.

    And, this is the why the underdog status makes a victory much sweeter.

    • deantheraven

      Being the underdog is a good place for this team. Hopefully they don’t read too much press, GG and the coaches do a good job of preparing and motivating the players, and playing times are adjusted to give the Flames the optimal opportunities they need to overcome the Ducks dragging and mugging.

  • Raffydog

    I don’t see this series ending any differently then the last time. Anaheim wins first two at home, flames might manage one win at the dome, then back to the pond for a 4-1 series win. Hope I’m wrong but the Flames just don’t match up well against the ducks. The way the Flames tripped and stumbled over the finish line this year doesn’t give me a lot of hope, they’ve been playing some bad hockey last 15 games, so might wanna hold off any parade plans.

  • Parallex

    Flames just gotta play their game and not get dragged down into the muck (That’s the Ducks game). Our team health is probably better then their’s so skate skate skate, and then skate some more.

  • class1div1

    Our 2nd and 3rd defensive pairings will have to play a smart fast game to have any success. They have not played well lately, so lets hope they get it together quickly.

  • Newbietwo

    This is going to be an interesting first two games that will set the stage for the rest of the series and the flames/our hopes to go far this year..

    Let’s admit the ducks are a good team coming in from a long effective win streak which although good we all know hockey comes and goes and they are due for some mental challenges internally..

    Does Gully put Ferland and Chiason on a line for a few games to dump and bump the defence of the ducks like we did before.. don’t forget the history with Bieksa coming from Vancouver and Ferland..

    I actually think his is closer than some might think and that this will come down to goaltending, special teams and Kessler at 5v5.. if we can come up on top with man advantage we win because 5v5 is going to be a neutral zone clog up

    • everton fc

      GG changes nothing. You go w/the lines that got you here. Having a 3rd line now that is potentially dangerous gives us 3 lines that can score, and a 4th line that is as good as any in the NHL, in my opinion (though I’d love to see either Lazar centering, Stajan at LW, Brouwr on RW, or Hamilton on LW, Stajan at centre, Brouwer on RW). We’ll see the team and the lines that put us into the playoffs. And I’m absolutely okay w/this, though Bartkowski still scares me at times…

  • everton fc

    A win in Game 1 – or in any road game vs. the Ducks – will be one of the great achievements for this organization in the past 20 years. If they take a road game, I think we win in 6/7 games. But the Ducks are, to me, a bonafide Cup contender.

  • Cheeky

    We might have a chance as we shouldn’t be facing the back up, nor any first game players or anyone needed to break a streak (Flames usual M.O.)…oh who am I kidding, sorry but GG will be out coached, our defence still won’t clear the douchebags off of Elliott, and our powerplay will do nothing. Now if we can win the special teams battle, play fast and not try to go toe to toe then we may stand a chance. What I wouldnt give to see Kesler knocked across the ice and out of series…

    • deantheraven

      I’m gonna say what all the players say. “Nobody want to see anyone get hurt.”
      Screw that. Pestler, Katy, and all the other S#!t disturbers can rehab all summer, starting in two weeks.

  • moore_tweets

    Gotta play a fast, tight game. Beat the Ducks with skill from Johnny, money, backs, etc. Stay out of the box, but don’t back down. Brower, you need to earn your keep. Ferland, make some solid hits on beaks, or better yet, Kesler. If Elliot can make those crucial saves like he was doing during the streak, we have a great chance at winning this.

  • I love 23

    I’ll definitely be watching every second of this series, but, why is it that everyone from Winnipeg west has to suffer with 8pm games or later (thank you CBC) just because Leafs and Habs fans can’t make it to the arena before 6:30? Wish Rogers would just take over already