ALBERTA

Five Reasons The Calgary Flames Reached The Second Round Of Playoffs

04/26/2015 05:21 EDT | Updated 06/27/2015 05:59 EDT
CALGARY - The Calgary Flames advanced to the second round of NHL playoffs for the first time since 2004 and will face the Anaheim Ducks. Not considered a playoff contender this season, here are five reasons the Flames beat the Vancouver Canucks four games to two in the first round.

1. A light team plays a heavy game

The series against Vancouver turned nasty in the second and third games. The Flames, the playoff team with the lightest average weight, took care of themselves and each other. Calgary had the third-least penalty minutes during the regular season. As of Sunday, they had the most in the first round with 152.

2. T.J. Brodie

"Supersonic", according to coach Bob Hartley, the tireless defenceman was Calgary's bedrock on offence and defence. His speed with and without the puck opened up scoring chances and his poise in Calgary's end was a heart-rate relaxant. Averaged 27 minutes a game and was plus-three.

3. Sam Bennett and Michael Ferland

Calgary got new forwards for the post-season without trading for them. Stepping in for injured Lance Bouma, Ferland was a punishing deterrent against Vancouver. In addition to 40 hits in six games, Ferland scored late in the first period Saturday to spark Calgary's comeback. With just one regular-season game under his belt, 18-year-old Bennett scored the game-winner in Game 3 and brings a combination of speed, skill and scrappiness to the post-season lineup.

4. Top line of Hudler, Gaudreau and Monahan

Somewhat quiet with three power-play goals between them over the first five games of the series, centre Sean Monahan and wingers Jiri Hudler and Johnny Gaudreau brought it when it really mattered. They produced four goals in Game 6 including two equalizers. Calgary had zero second-period goals in the series until Monahan and Gaudreau collected their first at even-strength Saturday.

5. Bob Hartley

Calgary's coach continues to foster his players' belief in themselves and each other with a light, but decisive touch. Pulling starter Jonas Hiller with less than eight minutes played in Game 6 wasn't an "uh-oh" moment. Hartley followed the philosophy during the season of "he who wins the last game, starts the next." The Flames play as confidently in front of Karri Ramo as they do Hiller, in contrast to the Mikka Kiprusoff days when the Flames were tentative in front of a seldom-used backup. Hartley preaches "no fear" to his troops and he practised it with his bold goalie move. "I said 'there's no way that I'm going back to Vancouver,'" the coach said. "My job was to go down striking and not get caught looking."

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