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Round 1

Flames not ready to reveal goalie against Avalanche for Game 1

Coach mum on playoff starter; Smith, Rittich split time during regular season

by Aaron Vickers / NHL.com Correspondent

CALGARY -- Bill Peters wouldn't reveal if Mike Smith or David Rittich would start for the Calgary Flames in Game 1 of the best-of-7 Western Conference First Round series against the Colorado Avalanche at Scotiabank Saddledome on Thursday (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS).

"We'll tell you Thursday," the Flames coach said after practice Monday. "We're going to go with the guy that gives us the best chance to win."

Smith and Rittich split time throughout the season. Rittich went 27-9-5 with a 2.61 goals-against average and .911 save percentage in 45 games (42 starts); Smith went 23-16-2 with a 2.73 GAA and .898 save percentage in 42 games (40 starts).

 

[RELATED: Complete Flames vs. Avalanche series coverage]

 

Smith started seven of the final 11 games of the regular season and had a 1.94 GAA and .916 save percentage in his final 11 starts. He allowed two goals or fewer in 10 of his last 13 starts. 

Rittich, who is in his second full season in the NHL, has yet to appear in the playoffs. Smith has 19 games of playoff experience, including three games with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2011 and 16 in 2012 when he helped the Phoenix Coyotes advance to the Western Conference Final. 

"It's been seven years since I've been in the playoffs and honestly, it feels like yesterday that I was playing in Arizona and we were playing in the Conference Final," Smith said. "It goes by fast."

The Flames (50-25-7) won the Pacific Division and finished with the best record in the Western Conference for the first time since 1988-89, when they won their only Stanley Cup.

"I remember laughing at the older guys when I was 24, 25, saying, 'Yeah right…I'll be here forever,'" Smith said. "Now I'm 37 trying to tell these younger guys that and they're probably looking at me the same way I looked at the older guys back then. It's an unbelievable opportunity. 

"These are the games you want to be in."

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