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Flames preparing for size mismatch against Ducks

by Aaron Vickers /

CALGARY -- Calgary Flames defenseman Dennis Wideman doesn't need a reminder that Anaheim Ducks forward Ryan Getzlaf is 6-foot-4 and 218 pounds. Kris Russell, Wideman's defense partner, is aware Corey Perry is 6-foot-3 and 213 pounds. TJ Brodie knows Ryan Kesler is 6-foot-2 and 208 pounds.

But Flames coach Bob Hartley has a simple solution for his defense to survive the size mismatch Anaheim presents heading into Game 1 of the Western Conference Second Round series at Honda Center on Thursday (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports).

"Skate around them," Hartley said. "They're very dangerous. They're big and they're fast."

Calgary's defense, which features three of the most utilized players in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, knows of the challenge of moving from their first-round series with the Vancouver Canucks to series with the Ducks.

"We're talking about Anaheim here," said Wideman, who had four assists in the six games against Vancouver. "They've got a lot of size and they come hard at you. They're coming out of an extremely physical series with Winnipeg. They’re not a team that you can run around and hit and intimidate them. If you start running around after them, they start to make plays through you. Watching that series, whenever they got opportunities, it ended up in the back of the net. … We need to be cautious."

Not just of Getzlaf, Perry and Kesler, either. There's skill, and plenty of size, in the Ducks' balanced attack.

Eight of the 12 forwards used by Anaheim in a series-clinching sweep against the Winnipeg Jets in Game 4 weigh more than 200 pounds, and two are smaller than 6-foot.

Wideman, Russell and Brodie, who trail Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith among active players in average ice time in the playoffs, weigh an average of 185 pounds. The easiest way to limit wear and tear on the body is simple.

"Just get the puck out as quick as you can," said Russell, the smallest Flames defenseman at 5-foot-10, 173 pounds. "Try and create offense because if you're playing in the offensive zone, you’re not spending too much time in the defensive zone."

Creating time is another key element, though not necessarily an easy one to establish against the Ducks.

"Watching their last series, they come hard and they do a good job of taking your passing options away and they put a lot of pressure on you," Wideman said. "We're going to have to get in front of them in the neutral zone. When they do dump pucks in, we've got to get our forwards back to break their stride and give us a couple extra seconds to make a clean breakout."

Limiting the forecheck and cycle is key to the series for Calgary.

"Anaheim has a big bunch of forwards, they're highly skilled, and they make a lot of pretty highly skilled plays," Wideman said. "For them, we've got to try and limit the amount of time they spend [in the offensive zone] and limit turnovers. We can't lose coverage, they get a cycle game going and they find plays and find open guys, so we've got to make sure that we don’t lose our checks and we have good sticks."

Calgary is looking forward to the challenge.

"They're just a bigger team," Russell said. "It would be no different if Vancouver moved on. They would say that they are a bigger team than the Flames are. It's going to be a different style of game, but we have some bigger bodies and play physical. We've learned to play all styles of ways and win all kinds of different ways, so it's no different.

"I mean there are some challenges, but we're excited for it. We've played teams like this before and done well, so we know what the challenges are going to be, but we're excited for the opportunity."

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