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PROTECTING HOME ICE

Flames focused on heading to Denver with two-game lead in series

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames / CalgaryFlames.com

Noah Hanifin has often wondered what it would like to find himself deep in the belly of the beast.

"This is really my first experience in a series of this length," says the 22-year-old, Boston College-trained defenceman. "I think the longest 'series' I've ever been involved in would be a best-of-three, in college.

"Mostly tournament games. That sort of thing.

"So this is all new to me.

"Watching the other games (Friday), you can see it happening. Bad feelings build up. We saw it spill it over a bit at the end or the first game here.

"You hear the stories, about how the compete level just keeps rising as a series moves along. You watch on TV and wonder what it'd be like.

"The crowd was into it. The game was tight. I really enjoyed my first playoff experience the other night. 

"And I expect it to get even crazier in Game Two."

 

Video: "It was super cool ... it gave me chills"

 

With the Flames looking to assume a 2-0 lead and the invading Colorado Avalanche going in search of a series-equalling W that would flip home-ice advantage in their favour heading back to the Pepsi Center, the stakes are high tonight at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

The Flames won't be lulled into a false sense of security by the 4-0 Game One scoreline. Staving off three consecutive Avalanche powerplays with the game scoreless swung the balance Calgary's way in a tight game.

"We want to protect home ice, obviously,'' said captain Mark Giordano, of the immediate task ahead. "And they're going to be that much more desperate.

"A lot of intensity, going to be a good atmosphere again.

"I thought were good and then on a couple powerplays they generated some shots, some looks and then I thought we got back to it, in the third, especially.

"We played a good game. I thought at the right moments we made the right plays."

 

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An old hand at this series madness, 3M right winger Michael Frolik fully understands the attrition factor.

"Every game," says the 2013 Stanley Cup champion with Chicago, "just gets harder. I'm sure they don't think they played their best in the first one and we think we can be better, too.

"Playoff games are about who is more hungry and who is more willing to do what it takes to win. You can never take anything for granted. You see what happened so far in the other series. Three-goal leads aren't safe.

 

Video: "I expect us to be better"

 

Games 3 and 4 shift back to Denver on Monday and Wednesday.

Saturday's outcome - one way or the other - will change the complexion immeasurably.

"Everyone's competing,'' said Flames' coach Bill Peters. "Everyone's playing hard. The contact's going to be there, both ways. You're going to have to give some hits and you have to take some.

"Don't go out of your way to make a hit, don't get caught out of position. And when you're done with your body contact make sure you're still in good position to play.

"That's the biggest thing: Don't going looking for a big hit that's not there. If it is, take advantage of it.

"We need to get the puck to the net more and play a little faster across the board, We hadn't played in a few days so I think you're going to see more of a rhythm in the series playing every second game and I think that's going to help both teams."
 

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