VANCOUVER – Goaltender Jonas Hiller is very aware what awaits his Calgary Flames if they can finish off the Vancouver Canucks in Game 5 of the Western Conference First Round on Thursday.
Calgary would advance to face the Anaheim Ducks, who swept the Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday. For Hiller it would be a chance to go up against the team that benched him twice in last year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs before he walked away after seven seasons.
Hiller, who signed a two-year, $9 million contract in Calgary as a free agent, isn’t thinking about a shot at revenge – yet.
“Yeah, I barely noticed last night,” Hiller said with a laugh after being asked if he knew the Ducks were waiting in the second round. “If we don't (keep our focus), we’re not going to play them. We have to do our share to move on, and then I think we can worry after that. We definitely want to finish this series as soon as possible.”
Flames coach Bob Hartley isn't worried about his young team losing their focus after going up 3-1 in the best-of-7 series with two straight wins in Calgary. Despite having five rookies and eight players in their first NHL playoffs, the young Flames have shown no sign of being overwhelmed against the more experienced Canucks.
“I am overwhelmed by the way they’ve handled the situation,” Hartley said “It seems like business as usual. The intensity, I feel like they get it. They are enjoying the moment. Our leadership group is composed. They take care of the kids, and the kids follow their lead.”
For forward Brandon Bollig, who is one of two Flames to have won the Stanley Cup, the key is remaining aggressive with a hard-hitting forecheck the Canucks couldn't answer in Calgary. But they have to be careful not to chase the play too hard, especially in their own end, where Vancouver wants to open up more shooting lanes to get pucks past a collapsing defense that is second in the playoffs with 94 blocked shots.
“We’re in a good spot,” Bollig said. “We’re not looking to sit back. It's a matter of not chasing but also going out and being assertive.”
Here are the projected lineups:
Johnny Gaudreau – Sean Monahan – Jiri Hudler
Sam Bennett – Mikael Backlund – Joe Colborne
Michael Ferland – Matt Stajan – David Jones
Brandon Bollig – Josh Jooris – Mason Raymond
Kris Russell - Dennis Wideman
TJ Brodie - Deryk Engelland
Tyler Wotherspoon - David Schlemko
Scratched: Markus Granlund, Corey Potter, Drew Shore
Injured: Ladislav Smid (upper body), Paul Byron (lower body), Mark Giordano (torn biceps tendon), Raphael Diaz (lower body), Lance Bouma (upper body)
Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Jannik Hansen
Sven Baertschi - Nick Bonino - Radim Vrbata
Ronalds Kenins - Bo Horvat - Derek Dorsett
Chris Higgins - Shawn Matthias - Brandon McMillan
Alexander Edler – Christopher Tanev
Dan Hamhuis - Yannick Weber
Luca Sbisa - Kevin Bieksa
Scratched: Linden Vey, Ryan Stanton
Injured: Brad Richardson (ankle), Alexandre Burrows (undisclosed), Zack Kassian (back)
Status report: The Flames are not expected to make any lineup changes after winning Games 3 and 4 with Raymond in place of Granlund, who played the first two games in Vancouver. … Giordano, who had surgery to repair a torn bicep in early March, continues to skate with the Flames but even if he is ahead of the original recovery timeline of 4-5 months, Hartley made it clear the Flames are not preparing for an impending return. “He’s a worker, so I’m not surprised he is doing so well but at the same time he is not close,” Hartley said. “Mark Giordano is not close.”
Who's hot: Gaudreau has one goal and two assists during a three-game point streak, with all three points coming on a power play that is 4-for-10 over the past three games. … Russell has a point in all four games (two goals, two assists) after he had four goals and 30 assists in 79 games during the regular season.