Mikael Backlund (left) celebrates Lance Buoma's goal against the Vancouver Canucks

Mikael Backlund (left) celebrates Lance Buoma's goal against the Vancouver Canucks

Game 1: Canucks, Flames prepare for battle; Eddie Lack named Vancouver’s starter

Calgary and Vancouver drop the puck at Rogers Arena tonight, with both Canadian clubs making their return to the Stanley Cup playoffs.



The Canucks and Flames are saying the right things, as it’s earned experience versus youthful bliss in an all-Western Canadian opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Vancouver hosts Calgary on Wednesday night, with puck drop set for 7 p.m. PST at Rogers Arena.

“Both teams are gonna be ready,” said Canucks coach Willie Desjardins this week. “Calgary’s been ready for this for a while. They’ll have a lot of enthusiasm and, for us, we’ve gotta match that, as well.”

“It’s gonna be a fun building to play in,” said Henrik Sedin, after Vancouver’s Tuesday morning practice. “It always is, and (Calgary’s) gonna come hard and it’s gonna be a fun series. Especially when there are two teams that I don’t think anyone thought was going to be in the playoffs.”

The Canucks finished with 101 points to claim second in the Pacific this season, four points ahead of the Flames’ 97. Offensively, Vancouver’s top line of Daniel and Henrik Sedin, plus Radim Vrbata or Alex Burrows, will face-off with Calgary’s dynamic combination of rookie Johnny Gaudreau, sophomore stud Sean Monahan, and 76-point man Jiri Hudler.

Both teams took their division by surprise, after they both finished in the NHL’s bottom six last season.

“The playoffs, there’s lot of unsung heroes,” said Calgary coach Bob Hartley. “Lots of guys that can come out of nowhere and suddenly, you get a big goal and you draw lots of motivation and lots of confidence, and here you go.

“Obviously, they count a lot on the Sedins, we count a lot on our first line, but we’ve been a great team, a great family all year.”

At first glance, Vancouver’s a team clinging to its past prime, pounding its chest for the experience it earned with five straight playoff appearance from 2009 to 2013. But the Canucks’ core has bounced back this season after a lost 2014, with the Sedin twins both eclipsing 70 points (in a down year for league scoring) and with Alex Edler returning to fine form.

Edler had 31 points and a +13 acquired playing with Chris Tanev this season, after a 22-point, -39 effort in 2014.

Plus, the Canucks have added key players like Derek Dorsett, Shawn Matthias, Bo Horvat, and leading scorer (and MVP) Radim Vrbata over the past year and a bit, meaning Vancouver’s got more to offer than its Swedish connection up-front.

At first glance, Calgary’s all speed, smoke, and young love. But of course, the Flames have resisted the stereotype all season, and (with Vancouver) beat out two once-powerhouses in L.A. and San Jose to surge into the West’s final playoff spot. And they’ve had so many heart-warming, gut-check wins this season, the city’s Sun was able to compile ’10 defining games’ emblematic of their never-say-die ‘tude.

“They’re gonna be playing hockey, they’re gonna be working hard and they’re going to be prepared to play a good game. We’ll have to match their intensity – their speed and their work ethic – to have a chance.”

Eddie Lack has been confirmed as Vancouver’s starting goaltender for Game 1.

Lack led the Canucks to the playoffs, starting down the stretch in place of injured No. 1 Ryan Miller. (Miller will be on the bench and is still likely recovering from his injury, although Desjardins said Lack is getting the start so Miller doesn’t have to go from 0-to-100 to shake off the rust.)

Jonas Hiller will start in net for the Flames, who beat Vancouver twice this season but did so with goalies Joni Ortio and Karri Ramo.

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

Just Posted

A woman wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 uses walking sticks while walking up a hill, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Interior Health reports 83 more COVID-19 infections overnight

46 cases are now associated with a COVID-19 community cluster in Revelstoke

What's happening at the Cranbrook Public Library
What’s on at the Cranbrook Public Library

Mike Selby The Library is now open with extended hours (with some… Continue reading

The City of Cranbrook is warning the public that the lake at Idlewild Park is not currently safe to skate on after someone cleared the ice over the weekend. (Submitted file)
Idlewild Lake still not safe for skating: City of Cranbrook

Ice on area waterbodies is currently quite thin, and not yet ready for recreation

A man wearing a face mask to prevent the spread of COVID-19 walks past a mural in Vancouver on Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
212 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health over the weekend

A total of 490 cases remain active; 15 in hospital

File Photo
Missing hunter found dead in South Country

A hunter was reported as overdue on Nov. 29, and was found deceased on Nov. 30 following an RCMP and SAR operation

A tongue-in-cheek message about wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 on a sign outside a church near Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection count climbs back up to 656

20 more people in hospital, active cases still rising

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. researchers launch study to test kids, young adults for COVID-19 antibodies

Kids and youth can often be asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus

A sign is seen this past summer outside the Yunesit’in Government office west of Williams Lake reminding visitors and members to stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
B.C. First Nation leaders await privacy commissioner decision on COVID-19 information

Release of life-saving data cannot wait, says coalition of First Nations

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
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
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

MLA Jennifer Whiteside is B.C.’s new minister of education. She is speaking out against Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld and asking him to resign. (Black Press)
New education minister calls on Chilliwack trustee to resign

Whiteside echoes former minister’s promise to look at options to remove Barry Neufeld

Peter Beckett. ~ File photo
Supreme Court of Canada to decide if it will hear appeal in 2010 wife murder trial

Peter Beckett has stood trial twice for murder in connection with the death of his wife, Laura Letts-Beckett

Most Read