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Breakdown: Canucks vs. Flames


5-on-5
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.



Vancouver power play vs. Calgary penalty kill
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.


Calgary power play vs. Vancouver penalty kill
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.


Goaltending
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.


Coaching
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.


Intangibles
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.


Prediction
Vancouver in seven.