Flames have no fear of mighty Ducks

Stats, shmats. Analytics, shmanalytics. The Calgary Flames bucked odds and defied expectations en route to the second round of NHL playoffs. The Ducks are heavily favoured to beat the Flames in their Western Conference semifinal starting Thursday in Anaheim. The Flames intend to keep thumbing their noses at those who think their lightning is about to leave the bottle.

CALGARY — Stats, shmats. Analytics, shmanalytics. The Calgary Flames bucked odds and defied expectations en route to the second round of NHL playoffs.

The Ducks are heavily favoured to beat the Flames in their Western Conference semifinal starting Thursday in Anaheim. The Flames intend to keep thumbing their noses at those who think their lightning is about to leave the bottle.

“We’re not worried about the stats,” Flames forward Michael Ferland said. “We just want to go there and be the harder-working team for sure and let our feet and bodies do the talking.”

Game 2 is Sunday at the Honda Centre before the series heads to Calgary next week.

The Flames face a heavier, deeper, harder-to-the-net team than the Vancouver Canucks they beat in the first round.

Going six games against the Canucks moved the needle on Calgary’s lack of playoff experience with eight players getting their first taste.

The Ducks are more seasoned in the post-season having qualified four of the last five years. Captain Ryan Getzlaf, winger Corey Perry and defenceman Francois Beauchemin won a Stanley Cup in 2007.

Calgary made the NHL playoffs for the first time in six years and got beyond the first round for the first time in 11.

Anaheim topped the Pacific Division and earned the top seed in the Western Conference with 51 wins, compared to Calgary’s 45. Anaheim’s average weight is 207 pounds, while Calgary’s is 195.4.

“Here’s probably one of the best teams in the NHL, if not the best team when you look at stats, when you ask any expert or people around the game,” Flames head coach Bob Hartley said.

“They’re big and they’re fast.

“We have big hearts. We have no fear. We’ve showed it all year. We’re solid. You might bend us, but you’re not going to break us.”

Calgary doubled the Ducks 6-3 in the last regular-season meeting March 11, but Anaheim won three of five meetings overall including both at home.

For the Flames to extend their Cinderella season, they need to solve the hostile Honda Centre where Calgary hasn’t won a regular season game since 2004.

The Flames won a playoff game there in 2006, but lost the other two as well as Game 7 to the Ducks at the Saddledome.

Calgary’s futility in Anaheim is a buzzy stat to start the series, but the Flames shrug it off as most of them have only been to the Honda Centre three or four times in their careers.

’It’s pretty easy math,“ Hartley said. ”We need to go and get one in Anaheim and win three at home.“

The Ducks pose a different challenge than the Canucks as Anaheim’s four forward lines each bring different strengths, according to Hartley. The Flames had a dress rehearsal for Getzlaf and Perry in their containment of Vancouver twins Henrik and Daniel Sedin.

“They’re a lot like the Sedins, make little plays to one another. They get in the dirty areas maybe a little bit more,” Flames defenceman Deryk Engelland said of the Ducks’ duo.

“We’ve got to do the same, take the time and space away from them, be physical when we can, but smart and try and limit our defensive zone against them.”

The Ducks are the more rested team having played just six games in the last four weeks. They’ll start the second round at home on seven days rest following a four-game sweep of the Winnipeg Jets.

Anaheim played just twice over the final eight days of the regular season and then had a four-day break before the playoffs.

Calgary was on the gallop just to stay in playoff contention over the regular season’s final stretch, particularly after losing captain Mark Giordano to a torn biceps Feb. 25. The Flames will open the second round on four days of rest.

“Everyone has written us off. From the start of the year, no one gave us a chance,” Calgary centre Matt Stajan said.

“We have our confidence in the dressing room in what we’re capable of and we have all year.

“We’re going to rile each other up and throw everything we have at them.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Many rural seniors are having to travel a long way to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Stettler residents are being told to go to Red Deer, Drumheller or Camrose. (Black Press file photo).
Many rural central Alberta seniors have to travel far to get vaccines

Stettler residents are being directed to Red Deer, Drumheller or Camrose clinics

Hölmetrics CEO and co-founder Chad Verity said the Red Deer area could become a tech hub. (By SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)
Red Deer-area tech company attracts international attention

Focusing on economic diversity in Red Deer region

The Red Deer Public Library downtown branch will likely not reopen as quickly as other branches because work needs to be completed on its HVAC system replacement. (File photo by ADVOCATE staff)
Preparation work begins on reopening Red Deer’s libraries

CEO hopes to know more about reopening dates later this week

(Photo from Highway 11 Functional Planning Study)
Public input wanted for Highway 11 improvement plan

Round 2 of public online engagement continues until March 10

Workers were busy getting a tall crane in place Thursday morning for the construction of the new courthouse in downtown Red Deer. The facility will include modern technology and replace the existing courthouse upon completion expected in spring 2023. Photo by Paul Cowley/Advocate staff
Red Deer building permits down slightly in February

The Real Canadian Superstore in Red Deer will be getting a facelift.… Continue reading

Red Deer dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped save a missing pet recently. The two dogs have more than 80,000 followers on Twitter. (Contributed photo)
WATCH: Red Deer science dogs help save lost pet

Red Deer science-communicating dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped rescue a missing pet… Continue reading

A locally-produced video project aims to preserve Canada’s railway history

‘Railways have been an integral part of Canadian history since 1836’

Ryan Jake Applegarth of Ponoka, 28, is scheduled to appear at Ponoka Provincial Court on March 12, 2021. (File photo)
Discussions about justice continue as Ponoka murder victim’s case proceeds

Reaction to comments Ponoka Staff Sgt. Chris Smiley made to town council last month

Dr. Stanley Read
Hometown Bashaw doctor recognized with alumni award for AIDS work

Dr. Stanley Read, born and raised in Bashaw, is considered a global health leader

A nurse assistant prepares a dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for COVID-19 during a priority vaccination program for health workers at a community medical center in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Andre Penner
COVID-19 cases start to climb again as variants spread, in step with dire forecasts

OTTAWA — Canada’s chief public health officer says new COVID-19 cases are… Continue reading

Shipping containers are seen at the Fairview Cove Container Terminal in Halifax on Friday, Aug. 25, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Statistics Canada to release final economic figures for 2020, January GDP estimate

OTTAWA — Statistics Canada is expected to say today precisely how bad… Continue reading

FILE - In this Jan. 31, 2020, file photo, former NBA player Shaquille O’ Neal is interviewed on the red carpet for Shaq’s Fun House in Miami. O’Neal is set to perform in his first competitive match when he teams in All Elite Wrestling with Jade Cargill in a mixed tag to take on Cody Rhodes and Red Velvet at Daily’s Place on an episode of “Dynamite,” Wednesday, March 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)
Shaq Attack: O’Neal ready to rumble in tag match for AEW

O’Neal’s first competitive match with All Elite Wrestling

Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee President Seiko Hashimoto, center, speaks during a Tokyo 2020 executive board meeting in Tokyo, Tuesday, March 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara, Pool)
Tokyo Olympics add 12 women to executive board to reach 42 per cent

Board will now have 19 women among its 45 members

The Stratford Festival’s Festival Theatre is shown in Stratford, Ont., on May 28, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Robins
Stratford Festival plans next stages with two outdoor summer venues

Ontario festival productions set for between late June and the end of September

Most Read