CALGARY, AB -- There’s not a whole lot of time to celebrate. The Calgary Flames are back to work.
Dispatching the Vancouver Canucks in six games of the Western Conference First Round best-of-7, the Flames reward is a steady dose of the West’s best duo and the Anaheim Ducks in Round 2.
“We were at the office all day,” coach Bob Hartley said. “There is no time for celebrations for us. We already started our meetings this morning. We’re going to have meetings until we leave for California. Our job is to prepare our team. They work so hard for us. Our job is to make sure that we dig for details, try to design a plan that will fit our team the best possible way, and after that, they are the performers.
“They’ve been the performers all year. It’s been fun to watch them, to push them, and to be around them. We’re not going to change.
“We know those guys. Western Conference teams, that’s our job to know them. We had some scouts watching the Ducks in the first round and we’ve played them so many times that we know them and they know us. There aren’t many secrets left in playoff hockey.”
The Ducks finished first in the Pacific Division and, at 109 points, tied for first in the Western Conference with the St. Louis Blues. Anaheim was also an NHL-best 12-23-0 in the regular season when trailing after two periods. The Flames were third with 10 wins when facing a deficit heading into the third period.
In facing the Ducks, Calgary’s road to the Stanley Cup doesn’t get any smoother.
“It’s not going to get easier, that’s for sure,” Flames centre Matt Stajan said. “They won our conference, our division for a reason. They’ve been one of the best teams all year in my opinion. Their top line has two of the world’s best players. Their second, third, and fourth line, they have great depth.
“We need everybody. It’s going to take everybody going. We can’t have anybody taking a night off because any of those lines can make you pay. If the mindset is right and the game plan is put in place, we can move forward.”
The Flames ushered out Henrik and Daniel Sedin in the first round. They’re set to welcome Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf in Round 2.
One of the league’s most dangerous duos, the Ducks pair combined for 58 goals and 125 points in the regular season. They added four goals and 11 points in an opening round series sweep of the Winnipeg Jets.
“There are some similarities and there are some big differences obviously,” forward Joe Colborne said of the comparison between the Sedins and Anaheim’s top pair. “When Perry and Getzlaf get cycling, I think they are pretty similar to those guys that they can control the puck for entire shifts and not give the puck up. Also, they are a bigger, take it to the net more than the Canucks were.
“It’s a completely new challenge and one that’s going to be tough but something we are looking forward too.”
It’s a challenge that Micheal Ferland isn’t planning on shying away from. Ferland landed 40 hits on the Canucks in the opening round, with the Sedins falling victim to their fair share.
He’ll try to do the same to Getzlaf-Perry, but isn’t about to discriminate.
“The biggest thing is to try to wear them down,” Ferland said. “Henrik and Daniel, they’re such good players it’s hard to even get to those guys. I’m going to go after every guy I can and finish all my checks. At the back end they’ve got a few guys. I’m just going to be going after everyone.”
Hartley wasted little time naming a starter for Game 1 against Anaheim. That honour will go to former Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller.
“There is no doubt in our mind,” Hartley said.
Hiller finished with three wins in the opening round series against Vancouver, recording a 2.20 goals against average and .931 save percentage. His only blemish came in Game 6 in giving up two goals on three shots.
Karri Ramo replaced him in the game, but won't in Round 2.
“We have two goalies capable of winning games,” Hartley said. “We’ve said it since the beginning of camp. The proof is right there. Look at the performance that Jonas gave us all year, but more importantly against the Kings and in the playoffs. We have both guys ready to go, so there is no doubt I’m very comfortable with bot goalies.”
Hiller isn’t shy in facing his former team.
“I can’t deny that it’s definitely something special,” he said. “It’s going to be different than playing any other team. At the same time, you have to prepare yourself to play as well as you can and hopefully win as many games as possible.
“It’s almost like going back to somewhere where you felt at home. You’ve been away and you come back and it’s going to be a different situation, but certain things are going to feel really familiar. Knowing a lot of people in hockey and outside of hockey there, I think that makes it a little special. I don’t know if it’s different emotion or anything, but it will be different any other team.”
NOTES: The Flames held an optional skate Monday at Scotiabank Saddledome primarily populated by the ‘Black Aces’…Among the regulars to take the skate included Hiller, Ramo, Brandon Bollig, Mason Raymond, Josh Jooris and Mason Raymond…Hartley wasn’t optimistic he’ll have Mark Giordano back in time for the series, saying, “My longest shot is training camp next year.” He added, jokingly, that Lance Bouma and Raphael Diaz are due back before the captain.