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Canucks, Flames hope for better days ahead

by Kevin Woodley

FLAMES (35-39-7) at CANUCKS (35-35-11)


Last 10: Vancouver 4-5-1; Calgary 6-4-0

Season series: The Vancouver Canucks have continued to dominate the Calgary Flames in the new Pacific Division the same way they did in the old Northwest Division, though the scores are no longer lopsided. Vancouver will go for the season sweep in the finale, but three of the first four wins have been by one goal, including one in overtime and another in the shootout.

Big story: With both teams already out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Flames will take a good look at the future with the NHL debut of Boston College forwards Bill Arnold and Jonny Gaudreau, both of whom signed entry-level contracts Friday after Gaudreau won the Hobey Baker Award as the top player in Division I college hockey.

Team Scope:

Flames: Gaudreau and Arnold had their "welcome to the NHL" moment before even joining the Flames for the trip to Vancouver: A private jet was sent to pick them up to fly to Calgary from the award ceremony in Philadelphia.

"That was it," Gaudreau said after practicing for the first time in Vancouver on Saturday. "The jet was a pretty amazing and then stepping out on the ice for my first NHL practice, those are two things I will never forget in my life."

Despite the jet, the Hobey Baker Award, and 80 points in 40 games this season, coach Bob Hartley was trying to dial down the expectations for Gaudreau.

"With the hype and everything it's normal when you carry the nickname 'Johnny Hockey,'" Hartley said. "But I've been in this league for many years, I've worked with tons of kids, and let's give him time. … I've seen myself or too many coaches or hockey guys go 'Wow' at a kid in the first week and suddenly, two or three months after, the diamond is not as shiny as what we thought."

Gaudreau, who is 5-foot-7, will start on a line with Arnold, his less-hyped center at BC, and fellow speedster Paul Byron. Neither newcomer is eligible to go to the AHL after the Flames' season ends Sunday.

"I don't want to get too high. I don't want to get too low," Hartley said of the new duo. "Let's have fun, let him play and we'll go from there."

Canucks: The Canucks will finish the season by celebrating their past with a pregame ceremony inducting Pat Quinn into the Ring of Honor, but the former coach, general manager and president may also play a role in their future.

Trevor Linden, who was named president of hockey operations on Wednesday, a day after Mike Gillis was fired as president and general manager, was picked second by Quinn at the 1988 NHL Draft. He called Quinn before his introductory press conference, and hinted Saturday night there may be a role for him in the organization.

"I am going to sit down with Pat," Linden told CBC's Ron McLean during an intermission interview. "Obviously for me he was a real mentor, and he's got a wealth of hockey knowledge, so we'll definitely sit down."

Quinn, 71, is perhaps best remembered for coaching the Canucks to the 1994 Stanley Cup Final before losing in Game 7 to the New York Rangers. He was also president and general manager from 1987-97, and may help Linden, who has been out of hockey since retiring in 2008, as a special adviser.

Who's hot: Flames center Jiri Hudler had a goal and an assist in a 5-3 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Friday, giving him five points during a four-game point streak. Fellow center Matt Stajan has three goals and three assists during a six-game pint streak, and 10 points in his past eight games. … Canucks right wing Zack Kassian had a goal and an assist in a 5-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night, giving him 14 goals and 29 points this season, both more than double the previous career highs for the promising power forward.

Injury report: Canucks forward Chris Higgins missed Saturday night's game in Edmonton with an illness and is questionable against the Flames. center Mike Santorelli (shoulder surgery) and defensemen Christopher Tanev (broken fingers) and Andrew Alberts (concussion) are out. … Flames defenseman TJ Brodie didn't take part in practice Saturday but coach Bob Hartley said after it was a "maintenance" day and he will be a game-time decision. Left wing Michael Cammalleri, who missed the game against Winnipeg on Friday with Illness, will play against the Canucks, but defensemen Ladislav Smid (upper body), Tyler Wotherspoon (shoulder) and Dennis Wideman (upper body) and forwards David Jones (shoulder), Mikael Backlund (upper body) and Markus Granlund (upper body) all are out.

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