HASH(0x811f48)

Anaheim’s Honda Center a mountain Calgary must conquer in playoffs

Flames vow to end drought in Anaheim

CALGARY — The Anaheim Ducks won the Pacific Division and the Calgary Flames got into the playoffs via a wild card, yet just one win separated the teams in the regular season.

Their best-of-seven Western Conference quarter-final series, starting Thursday in Anaheim, is less of a lopsided matchup than it was two years ago, when the Ducks eliminated Calgary in five games in the second round.

The Ducks (46-23-13) boast more players with playoff experience. But the Flames (45-33-4) aren’t as green in the post-season as they were in 2015.

Anaheim remains a formidable opponent, however, and the stat that continues to haunt the Flames is their inability to win in the Honda Center.

Calgary hasn’t won a regular-season game in Anaheim since 2004. The Flames are 1-4 there in the post-season with their lone victory in 2006.

“We’ve got to go in there believing we can win,” Flames captain Mark Giordano said. “The streak and all that is there. We’re going to have to get games there to win a series.”

Giordano is at the centre of animosity carrying over from an April 4 game in Anaheim. He collided with Ducks defenceman Cam Fowler in the third period, and Fowler did not return to the game.

Calgary’s captain and defenceman Josh Manson fought in a penalty-filled third period.

Ducks GM Bob Murray said Fowler would be out four to six weeks and accused Giordano of intentionally targeting Fowler’s knee. Flames GM Brad Treliving called Murray’s comments “asinine.”

Giordano and Calgary’s poor record in Anaheim is sure to be fodder for the Ducks’ faithful in Thursday’s Game 1. They chanted “you can’t win here” in last week’s game.

Game 2 is Saturday followed by Games 3 and 4 in Calgary on Monday and next Wednesday respectively.

The Ducks were 29-8-4 at home this season. Anaheim ranked first in the NHL in faceoffs won (54.7), second in hits (2,146) and tied for third with the Montreal Canadiens in fewest goals-against (200).

The Flames have come a long way from the team that went 4-5-1 in October. Since Nov 15, only Washington, Columbus and Minnesota had more wins than Calgary (40).

An 8-2 record in March indicates Calgary is peaking at the right time.

“Playoffs are different animal,” head coach Randy Carlyle told reporters in Anaheim earlier this week.

“Everyone starts at zero. We’re going to have to earn everything that we get. I would expect Calgary is going to have a few surprises.”

Calgary’s post-season appearance two years ago was its first in six years and also marked the first time in 11 the Flames got beyond the first round.

It’s rare when the Ducks don’t make the playoffs. Ducks forwards Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry won a Stanley Cup in 2007.

After ousting Calgary in 2015, they and eight other current Ducks were eliminated in Game 7 of the conference final by the eventual Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.

The Ducks fell in seven games to the Nashville Predators in the first round in 2016.

“It’s a deep team,” Treliving said. “They’re playoff battle tested. We know what we’re up against. 

“We know how good they are, but we’ve got to focus in on our individual game, our collective game and make sure we’re bringing our best effort.”

Where Calgary may have the edge is in goal.

Brian Elliott, 32, took the St. Louis Blues to last year’s conference final before he was acquired by the Flames in a trade.

Anaheim’s John Gibson, 23, has started six playoff games in his career to Elliott’s 37.

The Flames will lean heavily on Elliott in this series to advance.

“You just want to make the saves you should and a couple you shouldn’t,” Elliott said.

Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press

Canadian Press

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

Just Posted

Known Kelowna Hells Angels associate to face trial in October

Colin Michael Bayley is set to stand trial next month for an alleged aggravated assault

RCMP seeking witnesses to fatal Peachland motorcycle crash on Highway 97

One person died following a motorcycle crash south of Peachland on Sunday afternoon

Penticton officer hit by stolen Kelowna car that was later torched

RCMP are asking for the public’s help in a crime spree that spans from Kelowna to Osoyoos

Bomb threat at Kelowna Winners confirmed false

RCMP say a criminal investigation into the matter is still ongoing

Kelowna General Hospital receives grant for new neo-natal ventilator

The TB Vets Charitable Foundation donated $50,000 for the ventilator

B.C. records 98 more COVID-19 cases, most in Lower Mainland

One new senior home outbreak, Surrey Memorial outbreak over

B.C. food and beverage producers set record sales in 2019

Farmed salmon again leads international exports

Okanagan community lifts up Indigenous food truck dream

BannockSlap Burgers and Indian Tacos opened for business on Labour Day weekend

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

UBC Okanagan creativity on display at art gallery

Experimental sculptural installation and prints by students

Mystery solved on who put up blockade on Okanagan road

Land owner says trespassing with quads and motorcycles threatens wildlife and old growth trees

Editorial: Racism spans our shared history of pandemics

Guideline for naming of viruses designed to not offend cultural groups

Most Read