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Flames @ Canucks Game 1 Preview - And So It Begins

The moment we've all been waiting for, playoff hockey involves the Flames for the first time in six years.

Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Calgary Flames @ Vancouver Canucks - 8PM MT

CBC (TV), OMNI (Punjabi TV), Sportsnet 960 The FAN (Radio)

Ladies and gentlemen...

(Potentially) seven rounds in the NHL Western Conference quarter finals. All the hard work and perseverance has been rewarded with a place at the party, and a series with the Vancouver Canucks. It is the absolute least that the Flames deserve, both the team and the fans. Six years was way too long without an appearance in the playoffs, and that all ends tonight in Vancouver.

Expect a much different roster to the side that played against Winnipeg in the season closer (recap/somewhat skewed stats recap), especially as Emile Poirier, Brett Kulak, John Ramage and David Wolf have returned to Adirondack. The big guns and veterans will all return to the lineup. You know, the veterans like Sean Monahan and TJ Brodie. Karri Ramo returns as backup, while Sam Bennett will likely start.

The Canucks enter the series with the home ice advantage, and are the favourites to progress. A lot is always expected of the Canucks when they enter the post-season, and this year is nothing different, as they will expect to progress against this somewhat improbable Flames outfit. For them, Eddie Lack gets the start in goal. Zack Kassian is considered day to day while Shawn Matthias and Brad Richardson should return to the lineup.

All-time Record: The Flames lead the series 142-116-33, although since the turn of the decade the Canucks are 22-10. This year, the Flames are 2-1-1 against the Canucks, meaning they have not lost to them in regulation just once. In playoff hockey, the Flames lead 17-15. Hey, do you remember what happened last time the Flames met the Canucks in the playoffs?

Common Threads: Remember Chris Higgins' cup of coffee in Calgary? No? Ah well, it did happen. They also have some relative unknown called Sven Baertschi that they just sent down to the AHL, who may suddenly reappear (jk miss you Sven), while Mason Raymond and Raphael Diaz spent some time in blue. Plus, two of the goaltenders have names that rhyme.

Milestones: According to the Canucks' official series preview, the following players will all play their first playoff games at some point this series (assuming adequate health):

Flames: Mikael Backlund, Sam Bennett, Lance Bouma, TJ Brodie, Paul Byron, Michael Ferland, Johnny Gaudreau, Markus Granlund, Josh Jooris, Sean Monahan, Joni Ortio, Karri Ramo, Drew Shore, Tyler Wotherspoon.

Canucks: Bo Horvat, Ronalds Kenins, Eddie Lack, Ryan Stanton, Linden Vey, Sven Baertschi (should he be recalled).

As for points, David Jones, Joe Colborne, Kris Russell, Deryk Engelland, Raphael Diaz, and Matt Stajan are looking for their first playoff goal. Dennis Wideman is one assist away from 25 playoff helpers, and six games away from 50 in the post-season. Radim Vrbata needs four goals for 10, while Henrik Sedin will play his 100th playoff game tonight.

Regular Season Records And Leaders

Calgary Flames Vancouver Canucks
Record: 45-30-7: 97 points Record: 48-29-5: 101 points
Pacific Division: 3rd Pacific Division: 2nd
Western Conference: 8th Western Conference: 5th
Goal Differential: +25 Goal Differential: +20
Time on ice
Defence: TJ Brodie (25:12 per game)
Forward: Sean Monahan (19:37 per game)
Defence: Alexander Edler (23:58 per game)
Forward: Henrik Sedin (18:36 per game)
Goals: Sean Monahan (31)
Jiri Hudler
Assists: Jiri Hudler (45)
Points: Jiri Hudler (76)
Goals: Radim Vrbata (31)
Assists: Daniel Sedin (56)
Points: Daniel Sedin (76)
Shots on goal: Sean Monahan (191)
Shooting percentage: Jiri Hudler (19.6%)
Shots on goal: Radim Vrbata (267)
Shooting percentage: Sven Baertschi (3 games) (50%)
Zack Kassian (42 games) (18.2%)
Faceoff Leaders
Sean Monahan (49.3%, 1830 taken) Bo Horvat (51.42%, 848 taken)
Penalty minutes: Brandon Bollig (88)
Hits: Lance Bouma (264)
Blocked shots: Kris Russell (283)
Penalty minutes: Derek Dorsett (175)
Hits: Derek Dorsett (166)
Blocked shots: Christopher Tanev (170)
5v5 Corsi/Fenwick (minimum 1/2 team's games played)
Corsi for%: Jiri Hudler (48.21%, 78 GP) 
Josh Jooris (47%, 60GP)
Fenwick for%: Josh Jooris (49.44%, 60 GP)
Mark Giordano (48.6%, 61 GP)
Corsi for%: Henrik Sedin (54.13%, 82 GP)
Daniel Sedin (53.34%, 82 GP)
Fenwick for%: Henrik Sedin (54.71%, 82 GP)
Alexandre Burrows (53.84%, 70 GP)

Potential Starting Lineups (subject to change)

Calgary Flames
Left Wing Center Right Wing
Johnny Gaudreau Sean Monahan Jiri Hudler
SamBennett Mikael Backlund Joe Colborne
Michael Ferland Matt Stajan David Jones
Brandon Bollig Markus Granlund Josh Jooris
Left Defence Right Defence
TJ Brodie Deryk Engelland
Kris Russell Dennis Wideman
David Schlemko Corey Potter
Jonas Hiller
Karri Ramo
Vancouver Canucks
Left Wing Center Right Wing
Daniel Sedin Henrik Sedin Alexandre Burrows
Chris Higgins Nick Bonino Radim Vrbata
Shawn Matthias Brad Richardson Derek Dorsett
2x Ronalds Kenins Bo Horvat Jannik Hansen
Left Defence Right Defence
Alexander Edler Chris Tanev
Dan Hamhuis Yannick Weber
Kevin Bieksa Luca Sbisa
Eddie Lack
Ryan Miller

Just enjoy the ride, folks. This is all a bonus.