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Morning Skate Report: Calgary Flames - Game 1

by Aaron Vickers / Calgary Flames

ANAHEIM, CA -- Thirty teams were competing for the Stanley Cup when the puck dropped on the 2014-15 season in October. That number was widdled down to 16 on April 15th, the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. On Thursday, just eight will have the opportunity.

The Calgary Flames are among those eight.

“It’s nice,” Flames forward Joe Colborne said. “Let’s keep going until there’s only four, then two. It’s fun. This is the best time of year and I know that we’re just rolling with it and trying to have as much fun as we can.”

There’s plenty standing in the way of Calgary in their quest for the Stanley Cup.

First up was the Vancouver Canucks. Now, it's the Anaheim Ducks.

Returning following a four-day break after eliminating the Canucks in six games of the Western Conference First Round best-of-7, the Flames are back in action.

That momentum, David Jones suggests, still carries forward.

“I don’t think it’s going to be too tough,” he said. “I think we need to carry some of that momentum from the last series. Certainly it took a few days for that excitement of that series to die down a bit, for some of us. What a great first round, but we’ve got to focus on the next one here.”

The stakes are higher.

The stage is bigger.

So too is the challenge.

At 109 points, the Ducks finished first in the Pacific Division and Western Conference -- six wins and 12 points clear of Calgary. Anaheim also recorded a League-best 12 wins when trailing after two periods, and added three more in a four-game sweep of the Winnipeg Jets, their first round opponent.

The Ducks also bested Calgary in three of five regular season games.

The Flames are far from underdogs, though.

“It’s been following us around, but we didn’t really listen to it,” Jones said. “We’re not going to listen to it now. We’ve played these guys hard this year and I think it’s going to be a good series.

“We were expected to be 28th or 29th, so just to make the playoffs and then win a round, maybe some people will take notice. It’s been the same approach all season and it’ll be the same tonight.”

A win in Game 1 would re-enforce the point.

It's all about the start, coach Bob Hartley suggested.

“Both team’s are well rested," he said. "We just have to make sure that we get our four lines involved in the game as soon as possible. I think it’s going to be a great pace. They are a great hockey club, they have lots of speed, great size. We have to use our speed to our advantage. We expect a long series and we know that we have to win atleast one game in Anaheim to advance, so It’s going to be a tough challenge but we’re up for it."

It starts with one.

“It’s exciting, it’s finally game day again,” Colborne said. “I know the people back in Calgary will be excited. We need to figure out a way to go out and win a huge game one.”

SHORE EXPECTED

Forward Drew Shore was patient in practicing, and practicing, and practicing as the Flames took their opening round series against Vancouver in six games.

Now, his number is being called.

The 6-foot-3, 205-pound forward could draw into the lineup against the Ducks and, should he, will make his Stanley Cup Playoff debut.

“It’d be awesome,” Shore said. “Just watching the first round, you can see how this is such an exciting time of year. It’s never fun sitting out and if I do get in, I’m going to bring everything I can to the team.

“Growing up, these are the games that you always watch on TV. Being around the first round, this is the best time of year. If I get in, I’m going to be really excited and I’ll definitely have a lot of energy.”

Hartley confirmed Shore was a possibility following the morning skate.

"Most likely. Decisions are not final," he said. "We have some nice options, but there is a possibility that Drew Shore could be in."

Shore last played in Calgary’s season finale against the Jets on April 11.

Rust, though, is no concern for the 24-year-old.

“I did a good job staying in shape and working hard,” he said. “I just kept a positive attitude and if I do get in, because of that, I’ll be ready to play a good game. “Obviously I haven’t played much lately, but I think that means I’ll bring a lot of energy. Just moving my feet, being simple, shooting the puck and going from there.”

In 11 regular season games with the Flames, Shore recorded one goal and three points.

QUOTABLE

“It’s playoffs. They are going to be ready, lets not kid ourselves. Whatever team gets the first win, they got the perfect amount of rest and the other team didn’t. I don’t read too much into that. We’re all pros here and we’re all paid to do a job. We’ve got to come out the way we came out in Game 1 in Vancouver.”

-David Jones

FLAMES PROJECTED LINEUP

Johnny Gaudreau - Sean Monahan - Jiri Hudler

Sam Bennett - Mikael Backlund - Joe Colborne

Michael Ferland - Matt Stajan - David Jones

Brandon Bollig - Josh Jooris - Drew Shore

Kris Russell - Dennis Wideman

TJ Brodie - Deryk Engelland

David Schlemko - Tyler Wotherspoon

LINEUP NOTES

Shore is the only expected lineup change for the Flames. Mason Raymond is expected to come out of the lineup should Shore go in.

BROADCAST INFO

Game 1 of the Western Conference Second Round against the Ducks will be broadcast on Sportsnet (TV) and Sportsnet 960 The FAN (radio). Game time is 8:00 PM MT. Channel numbers for Telus, Shaw, and Bell users can be found on the Broadcast Schedule page.

The Calgary Flames official Twitter account (@NHLFlames) will be live-tweeting the game and providing pre and post-game content. Fans can also follow along on the Flames official Instagram account (@NHLFlames) for exclusive, behind-the-scenes content. Use the hashtags #NeverQuit and #CGYvsANA.

The Calgary Flames official app is another way to follow along with the action, with goal and period summary notifications. The app is free and available to download on iTunes and Google Play.

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