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Remembering: The First Time the Flames Made the Finals

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Mike Vernon

It was exciting to watch Nashville play their first ever Stanley Cup Final game in their home arena. One could feel the excitement through the television; the thrill the fans had of finally seeing their team playing for the Cup.

The first time the Calgary Flames made the Finals was 31 years ago in the 1985-1986 season. The Flames had come off a fairly good season, finishing 40-31-9 in an 80 game season, finishing second in the Smythe division behind a red-hot Edmonton Oilers team.

In the first round, the Flames made quick work of the Winnipeg Jets, sweeping them in a best of five series. The following two rounds would both take seven games to determine the winner. The game 7 of the Division Finals between Calgary and Edmonton was decided by an incredibly ugly goal. Oiler defenseman Steve Smith scored on his own goalie early in the third period, putting the Flames up 3-2 and advancing them into the Conference finals.

The 1986 Clarence Campbell Conference Finals put Calgary against St. Louis. In a back and forth series the Flames took a 2-0 lead early in game 7, with the Blues scoring one to cut the lead in half. The Blue failed to tie the game due to rookie goaltender Mike Vernon’s incredible play.

The Calgary Flames played their first Stanley Cup Finals game on May 16, 1986 at the Olympic Saddledome against the Montreal Canadiens. This would be Montreal’s 32nd appearance in the Finals. The Flames burned bright in their first game in the Finals, routing the Canadiens 5-2. Montreal would go on to win the next four games, winning Lord Stanley’s cup at the Saddledome. Though they had lost, Flame’s fans in attendance chanted, “thank you, Flames” showing gratitude for an incredible season and playoff run.

The 1986 team was lead by the likes of Joe Mullen, Hakan Loob, Dan Quinn, Lanny McDonald and introduced Mike Vernon as the Flames star goaltender. All of these players with the exception of Quinn would lead the Flames to their first Stanley Cup win in 1989.