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THUNDEROUS PRESENCE

The Flames expect Micheal Ferland to play a big role in their first round series against Anaheim

by AARON VICKERS @AAVickers / CalgaryFlames.com

He watched, albeit from a distance, as forward Micheal Ferland smashed, crashed and bullied his way into relevancy two springs ago. 

Craig Conroy wants that same crash. That same smash.  

And, with past performances in mind, the Calgary Flames assistant general manager has high expectations for the 6-foot-2, 208-pound power winger when his squad opens the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday. 

"He was a menace," Conroy recalled of Ferland's efforts in a playoff-opening series win against the Vancouver Canucks in 2015.

"Really, he was probably the biggest reason we won the first round. I know it's hard to play the way he was playing, but he had Vancouver just beside themselves with what he did every night, and that was just being physical.

"Just physical.

"Hard. Every shift. 

"I was in Europe at the time. My wife called. 'Micheal Ferland … now I know what you're talking about,' because I had said this guy was going to be a real good player for us. He's physical. He does this. He does that. She was like, 'I know what you're talking about now.'

"I want him to play exactly the way he did every shift and if he does that he's going to have a huge presence in this series." 

In a six-game set against the Canucks two years ago, Ferland launched himself into the opposition 40 times, with the majority of those landed strikes being of the bone-jarring variety.

Both sides noticed.

Longtime Vancouver (and current Anaheim) defenceman Kevin Bieksa certainly did, dubbing the bruising forward, "'Ferklund,' or whatever his name is," before calling him "irrelevant."

But he was anything but.

"It was pretty special for him to come in and do that and make such an impact," said current linemate Sean Monahan. "I mean, it's the NHL playoffs and for him to come in and do that and be that kind of presence was pretty cool. That's the type of guy he is. 

"We're going to expect that same thing.

"He was on top of his game then. When you're making big hits like that and generating offence from it and getting the puck, it definitely gives you energy. The next guys that go out, usually something good happens. He was a big spark for us.

"He's a key player for our team." 

Tweet from @NHLFlames: How you like me now?A look back on Micheal Ferland's first foray into the #NHLPlayoffs, back in 2015. pic.twitter.com/lC1AxjIALH

 Ferland, soft-spoken Monday afternoon, remembers the run. 

"It was a lot of fun," he said. "It's very exciting to get back in. As a group we're really looking forward to it. 

"I've got to finish my checks. That's what I'll be doing. 

"I'm going to be physical.

"But I'm going to play smart." 

He'll have to.

This time around, Ferland finds himself in an increased role to the one that saw him finish with a 50-hit, two-goal, six-point performance before the Ducks ousted his Flames in five games in Round 2.  

Ferland will ride shotgun on Calgary's top line with Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau, tasked with adding an offensive element and two-way prowess to his thunderous reputation.

Video: CGY@NSH: Ferland beats Rinne with bar-down snipe

"He was so effective in that series against us two years ago," said Flames coach Glen Gulutzan, who had a front row seat for Ferland's exploits as an assistant in Vancouver in 2015.

"I mean, he's certainly going to be a physical part of this series, too, but he's on a top line there. They're going to have to play good two-way hockey. They're going to have to chip in offensively. They're going to have to do a lot of things. The asks are across the board for all of our role players to have a job and Ferly will be the same.

"This isn't a Micheal Ferland series. I mean, this is far from it. This is a Calgary Flames series and everybody's got their role."

But Ferland's role is crystal clear.

Just ask Conroy.

"I want him to do the same thing," he said. 

"I want him to because what it does is throws everybody else off. If he can do that … and it's hard to do that … but if he can play that way, you'd love to see him play that way for four rounds.

"You don't know how long this is going to go. You have nothing to save it for. The season is over if you lose and you keep going if you win.

"For me personally, he's got to come out and play that game every night as hard as he can. There's nothing to save it for. This is what we play all year for. In this, every game matters more than anything and we're trying to win a Stanley Cup. 

"I want him to play exactly the way he did every shift.

"If he does that he's going to have a huge presence in this series."

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