Playoff time is a time when clichés get thrown around even more than usual but there are two in particular the Canucks should take to heart. The first is that the key to a comeback is to take it one game at a time. The second, perhaps even more crucial, is that momentum doesn't carry over from game-to-game. Vancouver got step one on their road to redemption successfully completed on Thursday but know they can't just expect to show up tonight riding the positive wave from their 2-1 win in Game 5 to another victory. Just as the Flames have already wiped the memory of Thursday's game from their collective minds, the Canucks need to do the same and have the mindset that nothing short of a win is acceptable.
Vancouver had several missing bodies at yesterday's practice session, namely Bonino, Kenins, Hansen, Higgins and Richardson. Coach Desjardins, however, indicated that he expects all of them to be able to play in tonight's do-or-die tilt. After getting his first start of the series on Thursday and picking up his first playoff win as a Canuck, look for Ryan Miller to be between the pipes again tonight for Vancouver.
Puck drop at 6 pm PT – Live on CBC, TSN 1040, or online at tsn1040.ca.
2015 Playoff Record
Trail 2-3 Lead 3-2
All-time Playoff Record
All-time Playoff head-to-head
2014.15 Regular Season Record
Former Canucks head coach John Tortorella had a famous saying: 'Safe is death.' His tenure in Vancouver may not have been a success but he was right on the money with his motto at least when it comes to playoff hockey. In Games 3 & 4, the Flames were relentless in their attack not giving the Canucks much time and space - and definitely very few quality scoring chances - in their attempt to mount a comeback after falling behind early. Game 5 was a much different story, however. Calgary was gifted an early 1-0 lead and, for a while, looked poised to continue their trademark aggressive style but after failing to pick up that elusive second goal they began sitting back trying to protect the slim one-goal lead. That's what allowed the Canucks to go on the offensive, put 43 shots on target (the first time they've reached the 40-shot mark in a playoff game since April 15, 2012 in a 1-0 loss to Los Angeles) and eventually crack the wall that is Jonas Hiller.
The Flames have shown an ability to rebound from adversity and to do so this time they'll need to get back to doing what made them so successful in Games 3 & 4 – be aggressive on offence, and get back to their shot blocking ways on defence. In their three victories in the series, the Flames have blocked a combined 79 shots for an average of 26.3 per game. In their two losses, they've blocked just 31 combined shots for an average of 15.5 per game. The Flames' willingness to get their bodies in front of the puck has masked a lot of Hiller's shortcomings. Thursday's game, however, saw Hiller at his finest and the Flames may yet still ultimately regret wasting his best performance so far in this series in Game 5 by not coming away with a win. If the Flames allow an open shooting gallery again on Hiller tonight, then this series is definitely going back to Vancouver for Game 7.
Keys to the Game
Be the chased, not the chaser. On Thursday, the Canucks played the comeback card successfully for the first time in this series. That doesn't mean they should go for a repeat performance. Knowing how daunting the C of Red can be, the last thing they want is to add any fuel to their fire. They need to calm the C by getting on the board early.
Keep getting in Hiller's face. The Canucks made a real conscientious effort to storm the crease in Game 5 and it paid off with Daniel Sedin's scoring the game-winning goal at the top of the blue paint. Hiller's nights at the Saddledome in this series have been far too uneventful. The Canucks will want to make his life just a little more interesting.
The D brings the O back. The Flames' defence has been a big part of their offence so far in this series combining for three goals and 11 points. In Game 5, however, they were nowhere to be found failing to hit the scoresheet and combining for just two shots – their lowest combined total in a game in this series. They need to get back to being offensive catalysts.
By the Numbers
All-time win percentage for the Flames in Game 6 when leading a series three games to two (3-8; 0-3 vs. VAN).
All-time win percentage for the Canucks in Game 6 when trailing a series three games to two (6-7; 3-0 vs. CGY).
All-time win percentage for the Canucks in playoff games when facing potential elimination (23-26).
Straight losses for the Flames in potential series clinching games (15-22 all-time franchise record incl. Atlanta totals).
Hits for Calgary's Michael Ferland so far in this series. Derek Dorsett leads the Canucks with 16.
Guaranteed win tonight for the Flames according to Mikael Backlund who, after Game 5, promised: "There is no way we're losing at home."