PREPARED FOR PUSHBACK
The Calgary Flames have the chance to grab a 3-1 series lead tonight but they are fully aware the Vancouver Canucks will come out firing on all cylinders, trying to quell the momentum the home team gained in Game 3.
"They're going to rebound for sure, you know that," Mason Raymond stated. "They're down 2-1 in the series now and they're going to push back. We've got to be prepared for that. Their intensity level is going to go up and ours has to too."
In Game 3, the Flames played a steady, consistent game with a heavy dose of physicality. They were relentless in all three zones -- cycling pucks well, finishing all of their checks, and were unyielding in their pursuit of the puck.
The Flames, according to Raymond, are aiming for more of that this evening.
"I don't think we change a lot from our game plan. Obviously scoring the first goal again would be nice, get the crowd going ... I like a lot that we did last game. Start with our forecheck, hard on pucks and not making it easy on them. We want to key on a good start and getting the first goal."
Another key to success is slowing down the Canucks top line. The Flames were successful in limiting the Sedins and Alex Burrows scoring chances in Game 3, holding the line to the perimeter and clogging up shooting lanes.
"You just have to be careful," starting goaltender Jonas Hiller said. "There seems to be no outlet and then suddenly they find a way to pass back door or something so you always have to be aware of that, you can't just think they don't have to have a shot or an outlet.
"It's been working pretty well and I think we do a pretty job taking their time and space away and we've got to keep doing the same thing."
The Flames were the most disciplined team in the NHL in the regular season, being short-handed just 186 times, but have taken multiple minor penalties in the opening three games of the season.
Tonight, knowing the Canucks will be pushing as hard as they can to tie the series up, they will be looking to stay away from taking over-zealous penalties and keeping Vancouver's time on the power play to a minimum.
"You look at us during the entire year -- we’ve been one of the least penalized team’s when it comes to minor penalties. Looking at fighting majors or suspensions, we’ve been real good," Bob Hartley mused. "Obviously it’s the playoffs and the emotions run a little higher and the competitive nature of everyone brings the game up. You look at every other series, it’s the same thing. Emotions are great in the playoffs, but you need to control them."
MAKING HIS MARK
Rookie defenceman Tyler Wotherspoon has spent his fair share of time with the Flames this season but spent most of his time in as a healthy scratch, getting into one regular season game in the 2014-15 campaign.
The 22-year-old was held out of the first two games of the series but in Game 3, Hartley decided to switch things up on defence and inserted Wotherspoon in, having him play alongside David Schlemko.
The move -- placing a rookie in the lineup in a high-stakes postseason game -- welled Wotherspoon's confidence and he's ready for Game 4.
"The coach has told me he has a lot of trust in me," he said after the morning skate. "He wants me to go out there and prove that I can handle this situation and I'm going to take that as a challenge, do the best I can."
Looking back on Wotherspoon's performance in Game 3, Hartley was pleased with what he saw and would like to see the same calm, poised play this evening.
"I liked his minutes. He’s back in the lineup tonight. For us it’s all about investments. We love our kids and we’ve made a commitment. I said this like two years ago that we would go with our young players and we feel that Tyler deserves to play, so he’s in the lineup."
On Sunday, Hartley recorded his 50th career playoff win in the Flames 4-2 victory in Game 3. Also, he is now 13 games shy of 100 postseason games in his career.
"Last time I had that kind of energy in the rink, I was a fan in '04. It's great to be a part of that, be a part of this whole group and what is going on here. I think our fans are feeling it and we're enjoying playing in front of them. When we scored that first goal last game, early on, and got the barn really rocking, that's enjoyable." - Mason Raymond
Game 4 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.