By Michael Walters
The march to the Stanley Cup begins tonight for the Anaheim Ducks. They will take on the Calgary Flames in the best-of-seven first round matchup.
The Ducks were 4-1-0 against the Flames this past season. For tonight’s game, they will be without Nick Ritchie and Cam Fowler. Fowler was injured in the last meeting against the Flames and is expected to be out anywhere from two to six weeks. Ritchie was suspended for punching Chicago’s Michal Rozsival after he cross-checked Corey Perry in the back in the following game against Chicago.
They will have Patrick Eaves ready to go tonight after having to leave the game against Los Angeles early due to a cross-check he took. Korbinian Holzer is back from Germany as he had to take care of personal issues. Clayton Stoner also skated with the team. It’s not clear if either or both will play tonight, but they are available. One thing for certain is John Gibson will be in net. He was seen leaving the ice first at practice today.
Keys To The Game
The Ducks have been on a roll lately and that included two wins over Calgary in the final week of play. The Ducks will be without Fowler so they will be tested defensively and against the Flames red-hot power play. Calgary is 20.2% over the season with the extra man and picked it up down the stretch. The Ducks need to score first, play their game, and stay out of the box if they want to win Game 1.
Anaheim Projected Lineup
John Gibson (Confirmed)
The Flames come into this series as the Pacific Division Wildcard team. They dropped their last three out of four games, including two losses to Anaheim and one to San Jose. In the month of March, however, they were 10-4-0 beating quality playoff teams like Pittsburgh, San Jose, and Montreal. The leading scorers for the Flames are Sean Monahan with 27 goals, Mikael Backlund with 22, and John Gaudreau with 18.
Keys To The Game
The Flames are a fast and physical team. They are going to look to work the puck deep on the forecheck and draw penalties. Their power play has been great in the final weeks of the regular season. With the injury to Fowler still fresh to the Ducks team, the Flames may look to get the Ducks off their game but upping the ante with their physical game. If they can get the Ducks off their game, then they have a chance to steal Game 1 of this series.
Calgary Projected Lineup
Brian Elliott (Confirmed)
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April 13th, 2017