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.

Just Posted

Increased rental construction boosts housing starts across Greater Victoria

Rest of Vancouver Island experiencing spillover effect from Greater Victoria

Bay Street Bridge construction begins today

Point Ellice Bridge will be closed to eastbound vehicle traffic until October

Some showers, high of 18 C for Tuesday

Plus a look ahead at your weekly forecast

Survey finds 15 per cent of Canadian cannabis users with a valid licence drive within two hours of using

Survey also finds middle-aged men are upping their usage following legalization

Family of B.C. pilot killed in Honduras trying to ‘piece together’ tragedy

Patrick Forseth has a number of friends in the area and was loved by everyone

Justin Trudeau credits immigration for Canada’s growing tech sector

Trudeau stressed that Canada has become a major source of talent for tech all over the world

Feds launch tourism strategy designed to boost sector 25 per cent by 2025

The fund is supposed to back experiences that show off Canada’s strengths

Mamma Mia! poised to be biggest Chemainus Theatre show ever

Plenty of buzz as Island dinner theatre schedules ABBA-fueled romp

New book from Island author details social history of the E&N railway

Along the E&N tells the story of 32 establishments from Esquimalt to Campbell River.

Should B.C. already be implementing province-wide fire bans?

A petition is calling for B.C. Wildfire Service to issue a ban to reduce risk of human caused wildfires

Growing wildfire prompts evacuation of High Level, Alta.

Chuckegg Creek fire has been burning for several days, but grew substantially Sunday

Top women’s hockey player Natalie Spooner coming to B.C.

Natalie Spooner special guest at annual Grindstone charity weekend in Kelowna

Most Read