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TRELIVING, FLAMES EAGER TO FACE ANAHEIM

'You earn your living through 82 games, you earn your legacy in the playoffs.'

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames / CalgaryFlames.com

Dad had some Sunday evening work-related TV plans. But 10-year-old budding equestrienne Reese Treliving had a say in the channel-changer, too.

"I was kinda following the games, a little bit both of them,'' confessed the Flames' general manager, "but I sat and watched a couple shows with my daughter, too.

"She had her first horse show yesterday. So we were watching horses.

"One part of me was like: 'Okay, let's watch hockey.' The other part was like: 'You know what, I'm sure once it's decided they'll let us know who we're going to play.'

"So I actually didn't watch all that much. Learned a lot about horses, though, let me tell you."

The tendencies of big, brassy Anaheim Ducks, Brad Treliving knows.

The foibles of four-year-old bay geldings, not so much.

He is, after all, acutely familiar with Ryan Getzlaf's 747 wingspan, Ryan Kesler's maddening sneer and extra cirriculars, Corey Perry's corrosive goaltender baiting, Andrew Cogliano's giddy-yup, Rickard Rackell's eye for goal and Hampus Lindholm's poise.

No sit-bolt-upright-in-bed surprises here.

"Hey, they're a really good, veteran team,'' said Treliving of Calgary's first-round playoff foe. "Lots of experience. We know what we're up against. You go into these series, though, the focus has to be on what we do well.

"We can't try to match someone else's game. We know they're battle tested and they've been through it. We know what they're all about. You've got to game plan and those types of these things but when you spend a whole lot of energy worrying about other players and what they do …

"We've gotta play fast. We've got some people who've been through it but it's still a fairly young group. You can talk about it, tell them about it, but until they're involved in it, get a feel for the intensity, they don't know. 

"As I talk about all the time: The rink will shrink. There's no time, no space, so you have to create those things as best you can.

"The playoffs go up and down in terms of momentum swings, so when those swings go against us, we've got to push it back, steal it back.

"To me, a lot of this stuff is more mental than physical."

The Win, a minimum of one game in a building that has been as welcome as the Amityville Horror house for over 11 winters, dating back to a playoff tilt in the spring of 2006.

"(We're) going to get asked about it a thousand times?'' sighed Trelviing. "But whenever it was (we) last won in there, some of our guys were still in short pants."

He's not worried about history. He's intent on making some.

"Our guys are not responsible for those things that happened in the past. We're responsible for what happens from this moment, and moving forward.

"Whether you've had a good season or a poor season, we're at zero now. During the regular season if we're going through a tough stretch we always talk about wiping the slate clean. That's the beauty of this time of year - that slate is literally clean now.

"We all start even Thursday night."

Heading into Sunday, the final instalment of the cutdown phase, the Flames were staring at either the Ducks or Edmonton Oilers as opening dance partners.

Old pal Jarome Iginla did his utmost to arrange a provincial first-round hook-up, scoring a goal - the former Flame captain's 1,300th career point in what may have been the 39-year-old's final game - to stake the L.A. Kings to a 3-2 third-period advantage at the Honda Center.

The Ducks, though, needing only a point to clinch the Pacific Division title and arrange a date with the top-wildcard Flames, rebounded to equalize.

When that game drifted into overtime, the pairings were set.

Over the seasonal series, Anaheim held a 3-1 advantage. Calgary's lone win was an 8-3 pounding at the 'Dome back on Dec. 4.

And only two years ago, of course, Disney's former darlings eliminated the improbable Flames in five games in Round 2. The series-clinching OT winner came via the nefarious Perry, sitting, predictably, in goalie Karri Ramo's lap while prodding the puck over the line 2:26 into overtime.

"I don't really look at it as why we're better equipped to play Anaheim now,'' countered Treliving, "but I do think we're deeper.

"The way we play is a little different. The personnel is a little different. I just think we're better prepared.

"Now you can think that, talk that, expect that, but you've still got to go out and do that.

"That's what it is now. We know it's going to be really, really hard. No matter who you play."

"The great thing about playoffs is that this is time you make your legacy. There is no greater compliment you can pay anyone in this sport, in any sport, than to say: 'He's a playoff-type player.'

"You earn your living through 82 games, you earn your legacy in the playoffs.

"I know our guys are anxious for the challenge."

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