Breakdown: Canucks vs. Flames
Updated: April 21, 2004, 2:45 PM ETBy Brian Engblom | Special to ESPN.com
Vancouver gets more from its defensemen at both ends of the ice. The Canucks puck-possession style contrasts Calgary's in-your-face forechecking game, and with the overall ability of the Vancouver defense -- moving the puck up and jumping in to the play more effectively -- the Canucks get the edge.
The Sedin Twins
Daniel and Henrik Sedin have to come through because the Canucks need a second scoring line to take some pressure off first-liners Brendan Morrisson and Markus Naslund.
The Flames will need contributions from the back end to offset Vancouver's advantage there, and Leopold is Calgary's best bet to contribute offensively as well as defensively.
Calgary goalie Miikka Kiprusoff got the Flames this far and will be the equalizer here. Vancouver's power play was not as effective this season as last, especially without Todd Bertuzzi, and despite improved balance this area looks even.
The Canucks were consistent all season in shorthanded situations, finishing third in the league with an 86.1 percent penalty-kill rate. Calgary barely broke 15 percent on the power play and despite the Flames having big-time sniper Jarome Iginla, Vancouver should have an advantage.
Mikka Kiprusoff is the single biggest reason the Flames are in the postseason mix and he gives them a ton of confidence. He is one of the best goaltenders in the west and could be this year's Jean-Sebastien Giguere.
This is one of the most interesting coaching matchups in the first round, with savvy veterans Darryl Sutter and Marc Crawford matching wits. Both are good with matchups and could spice things up in the media as well.
Calgary has youth, energy and enthusiasm on its side. The Flames are playing well heading into the playoffs, where they haven't been in a long time, and are eager to prove something. The Canucks have all the pressure on them and are still rebuilding the team chemistry after the Bertuzzi situation.
Vancouver in seven.