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Flames not taking underdog approach

by Aaron Vickers / Calgary Flames

We’re a confident bunch in here. We believe in each other, in our systems, and in our identity. That’s something that we are going to go with and block everything else out like we have all year.Joe Colborne

CALGARY, AB -- Feel free to paint the Calgary Flames as underdogs in the Western Conference Second Round best-of-7 series with the Anaheim Ducks.

They’re used to it, but they aren’t listening, either.

“We haven’t really put too much into that all year long and we aren’t going to start now,” Flames forward Joe Colborne said. “We’re a confident bunch in here. We believe in each other, in our systems, and in our identity. That’s something that we are going to go with and block everything else out like we have all year.”

With 109 points, Anaheim finished first in the Pacific Division and Western Conference, six wins and 12 points clear of Calgary. The Ducks also recorded a League-best 12 wins when trailing after two periods, plus three more in their opening round series sweep of the Winnipeg Jets, and were 33-1-7 in one-goal games in 2014-15.

Anaheim also won three of the five regular-season games against the Flames, and one of their two losses came in a shootout. Anaheim outscored the Flames 21-18.

The Ducks hold a sizeable advantage in stature, too.

But figures don’t concern Calgary goaltender Jonas Hiller, tabbed by coach Bob Hartley as the Flames starter for Game 1 on Thursday.

“I think there seem to be stats for everything,” said Hiller, who spent seven seasons with the Ducks before signing as an unrestricted free agent with the Flames last summer.

“There seems to be stats that prove one point and different stats that prove that point wrong. I think in the end it comes down to who scores more goals, who gets scored on less, and who wins four games first. Especially in the playoffs where you can lose 10-0 and it counts the same amount as winning 1-0.

“I think we’ve done a pretty good job to come back if we have been down. We have been really even keel there and we have to do it in the net series no matter what happened. We just have to stick to our game plan.”

That game plan?

“We’ve got to make sure that we play to our strengths; our speed, get on our forecheck quick, we’ve got some big bodies to throw later on as well,” defenceman Kris Russell outlined. “Obviously we know it’s going to be a tough series and there is going to be some bodies crashing and banging but you expect that in playoff hockey.

“Regardless of the teams that you play, there’s going to be adversity and things that you have to deal with, so we’ve got to make sure that we are prepared for that.”

What Calgary isn’t prepared for, though, is the underdog mentality.

Because they don’t necessarily believe it to be true.

“We’re going into each and every game thinking that we can win,” Russell said. “We have a lot of confidence in our group. We know how good of a team they are. We know it’s going to be a tough series. You can’t take shifts off, periods off against a team like this or they are going to make you pay. At the same time, we’re excited for the opportunity and we believe in this locker room. We believe we can challenge any team.”

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