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Playoff update: News on the Calgary Flames for May 3


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As the Calgary Flames make a run for the Stanley Cup with their best lineup in years, we’ll be there every step of the way. Follow this page for news updates, player profiles, analysis, photos and tweets throughout the playoffs.

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What you need to know

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Flames vs. Stars: Game 1 need-to-knows

Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk needs one more point to join the 100 Club.
Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk needs one more point to join the 100 Club. Photo by Darren Makowichuk /Postmedia

There’s about a million to choose from. The Flames racked up 50 wins this season, one of the finest campaigns in franchise lore.

There were a long list of standout — and sometimes record-setting — individual performances, highlighted by 100-point outbursts from both Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk. But none of that matters once the puck drops on Game 1.

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Can the Flames, as the top seed in the Pacific Division and in front of 19,289 red-clad fans, continue their roll with the stakes now raised?

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Game 1 preview: Flames favoured, but tonight they hit the ice

Stars defenceman Jani Hakanpaa pushes Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk off the puck during a game at the Saddledome on March 21.
Stars defenceman Jani Hakanpaa pushes Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk off the puck during a game at the Saddledome on March 21. Photo by Candice Ward /USA Today Sports

Offence: The Stars boast a formidable top line with Jason Robertson, Roope Hintz and Joe Pavelski, having notched a combined 105 goals this season, but it’s just impossible to argue the Dallas crew is as offensively potent as the Flames. The numbers don’t lie. The Flames’ top line of Matthew Tkachuk, Elias Lindholm and Johnny Gaudreau scored 124 goals, while the Flames as a whole outscored the Stars by a 293 to 238 margin.

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Advantage: Calgary

Defence: The Stars have big-named, proven studs on their blue-line, while the Flames’ top defencemen may not be considered stars in markets outside of Calgary. It’s the Flames, though, that boasted the lowest goals-against of any Western Conference playoff team, with 208, while the Stars allowed 246 and are the only playoff team with a negative goal differential in the regular season.

Advantage: Calgary

Goaltending: Jake Oettinger exceeded every expectation after being placed in the Stars’ starting role after injuries to Braden Holtby and Anton Khubodin. He posted a 2.53 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage while winning 30 of his 46 starts. It’s just not fair to compare him to Flames star shot-stopper Jacob Markstrom, though. The guy led the NHL in shutouts, with nine, and was third in the league with a 2.22 GAA and fourth in save percentage, at .922.

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Advantage: Calgary

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Drop the puck! Sutter’s Flames anxious to start playoff quest

Flames head coach Darryl Sutter speaks with media after practice on Monday.
Flames head coach Darryl Sutter speaks with media after practice on Monday. Photo by Gavin Young /Postmedia

On the eve of the Calgary Flames’ playoff opener, Darryl Sutter didn’t downplay his own anticipation.

“Yeah, I’ve been kind of waiting for it for a while,” he said, even allowing a slight smile. “It’s why you play, right?”

And why you coach, too.

Sutter has already waited six years. It has been that long since the now-unretired skipper was last standing behind the bench in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

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Sutter says Stars goalie Jake Oettinger shouldn’t be overlooked

Stars goaltender Jake Oettinger and defenceman Miro Heiskanen.
Stars goaltender Jake Oettinger and defenceman Miro Heiskanen. Photo by Jerome Miron /USA Today Sports

The Flames aren’t buying into the idea that Jake Oettinger’s inexperience in the playoffs represents some sort of massive disadvantage for the Dallas Stars.

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When Flames head coach Darryl Sutter was asked about the Stars’ young goaltender this weekend in advance of the puck dropping on their first-round playoff series tonight (8 p.m. MT, CBC/Sportsnet West, Sportsnet 960 The Fan), he had nothing but high praise for Oettinger.

In fact, he went so far as to say that the goaltending matchup between Oettinger and Flames star shot-stopper Jacob Markstrom was pretty much a wash.

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All eyes on top lines as Flames and Stars prepare to face off

The Stars’ first line of Joe Pavelski, right, Jason Robertson (21) and Roope Hintz combined for 232 points in the regular season.
The Stars’ first line of Joe Pavelski, right, Jason Robertson (21) and Roope Hintz combined for 232 points in the regular season. Photo by Brandon Wade /The Associated Press

The Calgary Flames may just boast the most dangerous first line in the entire NHL.

Anyone ignoring the Dallas Stars’ trio, though, needs to check themselves.

As the two teams began their final preparations for Game 1 of their first round playoff series on Tuesday night, there will inevitably be a lot of focus on their star offensive weapons.

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In Johnny Gaudreau, Elias Lindholm and Matthew Tkachuk, the Flames will roll out a top line that combined to score 124 goals and 301 points this season. All three were in the top 30 in NHL scoring, and the Colorado Avalanche were the only other team with three players among that elite company.

The Stars, meanwhile, will be rolling out a first line of Joe Pavelski, Jason Robertson and Roope Hintz. It’s a combination of veteran savvy and youth that combined for 105 goals and 232 points.

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Markstrom could be playoff difference-maker for Flames

Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom practises at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Monday.
Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom practises at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Monday. Photo by Gavin Young /Postmedia

David Marcoux had one of the best seats in the house — whether that was at the Saddledome or on the road ­— for some of the greatest puck-stopping performances in Calgary Flames history.

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So this observation, coming from the goaltending coach during Miikka Kiprusoff’s heyday, carries significant clout.

“Watching this season with Jacob, he has the potential to actually be even better than Miikka was at the time. He has that potential,” said Marcoux, who was on the Flames’ staff from 2003-09. “I just look at his leadership skills and his communication skills. He is way more comfortable speaking to his teammates when it matters than Miikka ever was. And that, I think, could be a game-changer.

“That is that little bit extra that could make a big, big difference heading into the playoffs is Jacob’s ability to be a leader and how vocal he is.”

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Photo of the day: Diehard fan lets tattoo do the talking

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Eric McComish says he got this tattoo on his calf predicting the Flames will win the 2022 Stanley Cup back in November. McComish posed for a photo on 17th Avenue S.W. on Monday.
Eric McComish says he got this tattoo on his calf predicting the Flames will win the 2022 Stanley Cup back in November. McComish posed for a photo on 17th Avenue S.W. on Monday. Photo by Brendan Miller /Postmedia

Fans count the minutes to puck drop

Rachael Knapkin, owner of CGY Team Store at Scotiabank Saddledome, shows off some of the Flames merchandise.
Rachael Knapkin, owner of CGY Team Store at Scotiabank Saddledome, shows off some of the Flames merchandise. Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia

Calgary Flames fans can expect a packed house inside and outside the ‘Dome as the team takes the ice against the Dallas Stars for Game 1 of the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Tuesday evening.

With butts expected to fill most, if not all of the Scotiabank Saddledome’s close to 20,000 seats, fans are ready to watch their team in playoff action in person for the first time since 2019. Ticketmaster showed the building nearly sold out as of Monday afternoon, with most available tickets only being up for grabs through resale.

But for those who aren’t able to get ahold of the high-demand tickets before the 8 p.m. puck drop on Tuesday, there’s room for another 5,000 people in the free Red Lot viewing party just outside the Flames’ stomping grounds at Stampede Park.

For downtown bars and pubs — especially those along the famed Red Mile along 17th Avenue S.W. — it’s going to be all hands on deck Tuesday night and all Flames home games throughout the playoffs for an eagerly anticipated post-game rush filled with red jerseys.

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