DOME SWEET DOME
It's been six years since Calgary has experienced playoff hockey and the city is embracing it wholeheartedly.
Jerseys and Flames gear have become wardrobe staples, there are car flags all over town, windows are adorned with signs of support, and the team is the talk of the town.
The C of Red is alive and ready to cheer on the Flames as make a push to take a 2-1 series lead over the Vancouver Canucks.
"It’s going to be great," Bob Hartley said. "Last night I was in downtown and fans are excited. We can feel it -- you talk to neighbors, kids are running in the streets with Flames jerseys. We had a taste in the game against the Kings. I felt that was a playoff atmosphere. Tonight will probably multiply by two."
The momentum a team can harness from a rambunctious crowd is incredible and the Flames want to tap into that energy.
"It’s huge," Deryk Engelland smiled. "You’ve got to feed off of it and use it to your advantage when it is loud. Keep the crowd in it."
Calgarian Joe Colborne has fond memories of watching his hometown team back in 2004 when the Flames made it all the way to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final and knows just how frenetic the postseason atmosphere is at the 'Dome.
"Those are some of my favourite memories growing up, those couple months that the Flames had the Cup run. It’s a special time of year around here. A lot of teams have their fans get behind them, but very few cities get behind their team like Calgary does.
"We’re expecting a real loud building ... We have the best fans in the league and they're going to show it tonight."
THE MATCHING GAME
Coaches Bob Hartley and Willie Desjardins are both believers in sticking to their match-ups so expect to see the Flames top line -- comprised of Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, and Jiri Hudler -- squaring off against the Sedins and Alex Burrows all night.
The top line has been quiet, with just two assists between the three of them, in the opening two games of the series while the Sedins and Burrows have combined for four points thus far.
"Obviously we want to be better than them and that’s our goal and we can do that," Monahan stated. "We’ve talked about it as a group and as a team. So we know we’ve got to be better than that line. Me, Johnny, Hudler need to start producing more and we’re going to do that."
When asked if he was concerned about Gaudreau, Monahan, and Hudler's production, Hartley was emphatic in his support of the trio. While they may lack the postseason experience the Sedins and Burrows have, he has seen them rise to the occasion throughout the season.
"They’ve matched every top line of every team all year. But to your point, Sean Monahan was six years old when the Sedin’s got in the league. While Monahan was learning to ride his bike, the Sedin’s were starting to play in the NHL, but that’s who we have.
"Two years ago, we decided on a rebuild and we went the right way. We’re not yet at the top of the mountains, but we have some great young players, we’re committed to play them, and they will play."
Being at home will help ensure the Flames get the match-ups they want as they have last change.
"It’s huge if you’re planning to match lines and stuff like that," Engelland said. "I think it’s more for when icings happen, so it’s not that much of a favour, but if you want your match-ups, it’s nice to have at home."
The Flames are expected to go with the same lineup they iced in the opening two games of the series. Jonas Hiller will once again get the start in net.
"Not a lot of people were expecting playoffs this year. The support we had last year was incredible. We went through some rough patches and our fans stuck with us. Not once did we feel like they were hanging us out to dry. It’s been so nice to repay them a little bit. Hopefully this is just the start of many, many years of good hockey out of us." - Joe Colborne on the C of Red
Game 3 will be broadcast on CBC (TV) and Sportsnet 960 The FAN (radio). Game time is 8:00 PM MT.
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.
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.