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Ducks vs. Flames: A first look at their NHL playoffs matchup

Red is the operative word for this playoff series.

The Ducks still see red when they think about Mark Giordano’s knee-on-knee hit last week that injured defenseman Cam Fowler. And they aim to keep Calgary’s red jerseys from flying into their zone.

History doesn’t count, but it puts the Ducks in the black: They’ve won both previous playoff series against the Flames, in 2015 and 2006.

Ducks offense vs. Flames defense

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All four Ducks lines have identity and strong center men, and Patrick Eaves is perhaps the best trade deadline move in the NHL. Rickard Rakell and Jakob Silfverberg possess deadly hands.

Defensemen Giordano, T.J. Brodie and Dougie Hamilton are the Flames’ horses, and Dennis Wideman and Deryk Engelland also play significant minutes. Mikael Backlund is considered a Selke Trophy candidate as best defensive forward.

Ducks defense vs. Flames offense

The Ducks are without their minutes leader Fowler, at least to start, and will need Hampus Lindholm, Sami Vatanen and others to collectively fill his absence. Silfverberg, Ryan Kesler and Andrew Cogliano are probably the best defensive line in the NHL.

Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan drive the Flames, and Calgary boasts 10 forwards with double-digit goal totals, including Kris Versteeg.

Goalies

This remains the strength of the Ducks with John Gibson and Jonathan Bernier. Gibson carried most of the mail in his first full NHL season and Bernier ran with the job when Gibson got hurt.

Veteran Brian Elliott overcame a rough start in his first season with Calgary and went 17-6-1 after the All-Star break.

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Special teams

The Ducks’ power play dropped from first in the NHL last season to middle of the pack, and it will have to adjust slightly without Fowler. Penalty killing remains strong, with Cogliano and Silfverberg as short-handed threats.

Calgary’s power play ranked in the top third. Its penalty kill improved from 30th to 12th.

Home ice

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Expect the “You can’t win here!” chant in Honda Center like there was last Tuesday. Postseason is different, but the Ducks have won an NHL-record 25 regular-season home games against the Flames, who last won in Anaheim in the 2006 playoffs.

Calgary fills the Scotiabank Saddledome with a fervent fan base eager for the playoffs after the Flames missed them last season.


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