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Three keys going into the Ducks-Calgary Flames NHL playoff series

Three keys going into the Ducks-Calgary Flames NHL playoff series
Flames goalie Jonas Hiller will try to help Calgary advance in the playoffs by beating his former team, the Anaheim Ducks. (Todd Korol / Getty Images)

Three keys for the Ducks in their best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal series against the Calgary Flames:

1 Will the real cardiac kids please step up?

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Does anyone around here want to play with a lead? In the regular season, the Ducks came back to win 18 times — an NHL record — when they trailed in the third period. The Flames won 10 times when trailing after two periods. A similar pattern continued in the playoffs. Anaheim rallied three times in the third period in its first three games against the Jets, and the Flames erased a 3-0 deficit in their series-clinching victory over Vancouver. The real question: Can anyone play with the lead?

2 The Hiller referendum

Did the Ducks err in letting longtime goalie Jonas Hiller depart in the off-season? Hiller went to Calgary as a free agent and the Flames are hoping it will be a repeat of what happened 11 years ago with another goalie. Miikka Kiprusoff came back against his former team that let him go, San Jose, and led the Flames past the Sharks in the Western Conference finals in 2004.

3 Wearing down the Flames defense

The injury-depleted Flames defense have been shouldering a heavy workload, namely the threesome of Dennis Wideman, Kris Russell and T.J. Brodie, who are logging an average of about 27 minutes per game in the playoffs. The Ducks' physical style could wear on the Flames' defense corps, softening the overworked core over a long series.

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