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Photo Credit: Candice Ward / USA Today Sports

Playoff FGD: Flames at Ducks, Game 1

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When games began on November 15, the Calgary Flames were the worst team in the National Hockey League. Tonight, they begin the Stanley Cup playoffs against the Anaheim Ducks. The Flames are a decided underdog in their Western Conference quarterfinal series, as the Ducks (a) won the division, (b) handily won the season series against the Flames and (c) have home ice advantage. The Flames can put expectations on their ear with a Game 1 victory in the Honda Center, a place they haven’t won since the spring of 2006.

The puck drops at 8:30 p.m. MT on CBC (with Rick Ball and John Garrett) and Sportsnet 960 The Fan (with Derek Wills and Peter Loubardias).

THE FLAMES

Lines via Daily Faceoff:

It’s a status quo lineup for the most part for the Flames!

Brian Elliott starts for the Flames. He was superb down the stretch for the club and is one of the reasons they’re here. He’ll be backed up by 2012 draft pick Jon Gillies, who’s up temporarily due to a groin injury to Chad Johnson suffered in Calgary’s last trip to the O.C. Johnson is said to be close to a return, though.

Beyond Gillies in for Johnson, this is the Flames team that won 10 in a row and went on a crazy run after January 24. Whether it’s beer on a train (it’s not) or figuring out how to play coherent 200-foot hockey (bingo), the Flames looked like a confident bunch with a lot of swagger for about two months. If they can regain that swagger – and Elliott is very sharp – they could steal a game in Anaheim.

The good news? The Flames converted on 23.5% of power play opportunities in their five games against Anaheim. The bad news? They allowed goals on 30% of Anaheim’s power plays. They need to win the special teams battle to have a chance here.

THE DUCKS

Lines via Daily Faceoff:

It’s mostly a status quo lineup for the Ducks!

John Gibson starts. Jonathan Bernier is his back-up. Both are really good goalies. Nick Ritchie serves the second game of his suspension for sucker-punching Michal Rozsival in Anaheim’s second-last game of the regular season. Given the Flames preponderance of Michaels, Micheals and Mikaels, expect swift retribution in Game 2. For now, Ondrej Kase dresses in his place.

The key to victory? Don’t let anybody named Ryan score. The Ducks have a pair of pretty solid Ryans – Getzlaf and Kesler – and shutting them down is a good way to ensure you get more goals than they do.

THE NUMBERS

FLAMES DUCKS
Wins 45 46
Points
(Pct.)
94
(.573)
105
(.640)
Power Play 20.2% 18.7%
Penalty Kill 81.6% 84.7%
Score-Adjusted Corsi 50.5% 50.2%

KNOW THY ENEMY

Some Ducks follows for tonight’s contest:

SUM IT UP

It’s Game 1 of the playoffs! A few months ago it seemed like the Flames would be watching this on TV, so savour the moment a bit. And then engage in three-plus hours of white-knuckling it, as this is the time of year that the games really count.

It takes 16 wins to capture the Stanley Cup. The best way to start? Win one, and go from there.

    • aye

      He should be scratched the way he plays defense in the d zone, cheats too much, and doesn’t compete for the puck. He needs to learn this is the playoffs, you gotta fight for the puck.

  • Burning Ring of Fire

    I heard Brouwers name mentioned 6 times during the game. Is this good for a playoff specialist? Does this suggest that he’s a possession beast? Sheesh…

  • cgyokgn

    You cannot take 7 penalties and expect to win. Dougie took 3 penalties all by himself… that last penalty was just stupid. I thought Brodie played really well which was good to see. Let’s hope that they are much more disciplined next game. So… not a single Canadian team won.

  • Cheeky

    Outcoached! Plain and simple when on a 5 on 3 park someone in front of net! Watch Anaheim PP if you need some evidence, also show some emotion especially at end of game with no time added GG….

  • Agent Orange

    Well back to the drawing board. Faceoff % and zone entry needs work. Can almost count on one hand how many times the dump and chase actually led to zone time for us tonight.

  • Flint

    Obviously a Flames fan, but let’s call it how it was. Anahiem’s best players (Getzlaf, Gibson, Perry etc) were their best players… ours (Gaudreau, Hamilton, Gio) were not as good. People can complain about the refs, but we got beat… we sound like Oilers fans. Anaheim was better, and our Powerplay to end the game had five guys thoroughly dismantled by one…Getzlaf. We can’t play Anaheim in this trench warfare kinda way. Gotta be better.

  • flames2015

    We brought brouwer here for what truculence and he was credited for 2 whole hits tonight? Bart had 5, and makes a 6th of what he makes. Jesus. That brutal line change really put this game away.

      • Captain Ron

        Fair enough on Brodie. I’m venting in a big way right now. Lot’s of steam coming out of these ears tonight! This team continue’s to lose in Anaheim because it deserves to. Not because of the officials.

    • Captain Ron

      Brodie sucked tonight. His zone entry on the 5 on 3 was a disaster. I used to think he was an untouchable on this team. Not so much anymore. Even after the brain dead stupidity we still had a chance to tie it up on the PP and they played with the urgency of a Sunday afternoon skate. I find it incomprehensible that they can piss away a game they had full control over. If I were the coach I would be benching guys in the 3rd and kicking garbage cans in the dressing room between the second and third period.
      No excuses for a team of pro’s to self destruct like that after playing a full season together.

  • Alberta Ice

    One very bad mistake, a line change, gifted the Ducks with an easy goal and momentum. Really liked Elliot’s play. A little more discipline might do it for a victory at the next game in Anaheim.

  • Parallex

    Blah. We lost, worse we deserved to lose. Score was close but that was the only thing that was close.

    Aside: I hate the NHL rules regarding stuff like the final few seconds. It’s the smart play by Kesler… eat up 75% of the time on the clock in exchange for maybe a meaningless minor? No brainer. There outta be a rule change granting a penalty shot for those types of situation.

  • Burning Ring of Fire

    Plain and simple – the Ducks wanted it more. They were first to the puck and relentlessly pursued it. We were slow breaking out of the zone and they played a good trap. This is not a curse. It’s called being outcoached. Hopefully GG pulls together a better game plan for the next one.

  • Burning Ring of Fire

    Also, did anyone else notice how GG’s shirt, tie and hankie matched the Booster Juice billboard behind him? Makes you wonder if they’re paying him a little something something on the side to make their advertisement pop!

  • Newbietwo

    We had this game until a dumb penalty by Hamilton, the worst line change ever and Bouma proving he failed high school again.. we had this damn game..

    One more bone of contention the refs were ridiculous.. how on earth do you call some of those penalties. Regardless no excuse again we had this damn game we have to learn fast how to play when ahead

  • flames2015

    Bouma 1 hit, 0 blocks, 1 shot, 1 penalty that lead to ducks goal. He’s suppose to be an ‘energy’ guy. Bs. Wth is he even in the line up. Get Lazar in for some spark, kid is pumper up or F. Hamilton. He can at least win FOs and can create some plays on the 4th line and not cost you.

    • Burning Ring of Fire

      WW. I concur that Garrett is guano. Could you please write up a brief synopsis of the Game as it was described by the Punjabis announcers? Thanks a bunch!

  • Drewski

    Some bad penalties and some bad goals. Still one of the better games I’ve seen in Anaheim in a long time.

    Trolls aside, need some AB wins so I can head down to California next weekend for an epic two game road trip. The entire nation(s) is welcome to join but will need to pay their own way

    It’s full on team Canada cheering section folks. 0 and 5 but still very Alive

  • shaner

    I actually thought the flames played well enough to win a game. I mean the biggest issues obviously was penalties, but otherwise they had some chances and it could have went either way…..obviously would rather severely out play other team and win but there is a lot of positives to take away……and thats coming from an oil fan….but an alberta fan over any american team.

  • Connor Mcdavid 1

    I love how all these flames fans were cutting oilers for blaming refs for the 1st game then I come on here and read all this.. hahhahahaha great stuff