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Built for playoffs, Ferland is Flames' X-factor

by Aaron Vickers

CALGARY -- A sign in Calgary's inner-city tells all that's needed about the impact forward Micheal Ferland has had on the Calgary Flames in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

'Sorry Nenshi, Ferland for mayor.'

Elected in 2010, Naheed Nenshi is the city of Calgary's current mayor, was the first Canadian voted 'World Mayor' prize in 2014 by the City Mayors Foundation and was ranked the second most-important person in Canada by MacLean's magazine.

Making his playoff debut this month, Ferland has quickly become a cult hero in Calgary after delivering 40 hits and scoring two goals and four points in helping eliminate the Vancouver Canucks in six games in the Western Conference First Round.

He's become the most popular man in Calgary.

"That's pretty funny. [Coach Bob Hartley] told me this morning about the mayor sign. He thought it was pretty hilarious," said Ferland, who said he has no plans to challenge Nenshi for office. "It all just seems so surreal. It's all coming at me so fast. I'm just taking it day-by-day. I'm just having a lot of fun right now. It's a good experience.

"It's awesome. I don't even know what to say about that. I'm just grateful for the opportunity. I'm having a lot of fun right now where I am, in my hockey career and my life. It's the way I've wanted it to be, for sure."

Ferland has stepped into the vacancy created by an upper-body injury to forward Lance Bouma, an opportunity that has allowed Ferland to emerge as a full-time and starring role on the Flames.

He hasn't disappointed.

"I remember talking with [general manager Brad Treliving] many months ago, prior to the trade deadline, and we both agreed that we had to make a spot for Ferland," Hartley said. "I felt that he still has a lot to learn, but he brings so much to the game.

"Look at his speed, look at his size, look at the way that he understands the game. Defensively, he is very responsible. His hockey sense is unbelievable. He has a great shot and he will be a big time player for us. He will be what you call a power forward. …He is a big of a power forward as you can find in the NHL right now.

Ferland spent six games playing a major role in establishing Calgary's forecheck, one of the biggest reasons the Flames were able to eliminate the Canucks and advance to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2004 and the second time since winning the Stanley Cup in 1989.

The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Ferland had two goals, Calgary's first and last, in a 7-4 come-from-behind victory in Game 6 to clinch the series.

The physical effort and offensive results aren't lost on teammates.

"He was a huge reason for our success," Flames forward Brandon Bollig said. "I don't know if he would've expected that. Playing his game the way he did, if he keeps playing like that, that's a guy who's built for the playoffs. We do need him to keep playing that way.

"He was huge for us that series and played out of his mind for us. I don't think [Ferland] is going to change his game by any means. He's going to continue to be big for us."

Those are big expectations for a player that skated in 26 regular-season games for the Flames in his second full season of pro hockey.

The job doesn't get any easier, either. After facing Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin in a shutdown role with veterans Matt Stajan and David Jones, Ferland could find himself going head-to-head with the bigger, more physical duo of Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry of the Anaheim Ducks. But he's up for the challenge.

"We've just got to take it one game at a time, just be physical on them," Ferland said. "They're going to be physical on us. They're a big, strong team. They're a very skilled team but we've got to take it one game at a time.

"The biggest thing is to try to wear them down. Henrik and Daniel, they're such good players it's hard to even get to those guys. I'm going to go after every guy I can and finish all my checks. At the back end, they've got a few guys. I'm just going to be going after everyone."

Except Calgary's mayor.

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