Flames paying the price

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 12:47 PM ET


 Some limped out of the Saddledome yesterday, others were wearing colourful bruises while a few were sporting stitches to close Round 1 wounds.

 Additionally, injured Calgary Flames defencemen Denis Gauthier and Toni Lydman have been sidelined indefinitely while rugged winger Chris Simon is day-to-day.

 Indeed, the Flames are a tender crew as they head to Detroit for tonight's series opener against the Red Wings, with Joe Louis Arena a fitting stage for the next toe-to-toe playoff scuffle.

 "We're giving them a lot of respect but at the same time, it's a seven-game series so you just have to bang 'em, go at 'em hard, we can't sit back and watch them," suggests Flames winger Shean Donovan.

 "We know we have to play hard and go at them physically."

 Veteran Martin Gelinas, who's been through plenty of playoff wars with the likes of Edmonton, Vancouver and Carolina, sees physical domination as the only way to ground the Wings.

 "They're a very experienced team, very skilled, very disciplined," nods Gelinas.

 "We're going to have to skate. We're going to have to play Flames hockey -- which is skating, throwing a lot of pucks on net, finishing our checks. We're facing some great players but at the same time, we took a step in the right direction last series, played a gritty style of hockey and we're going to have to do the same thing."

 Defenceman Andrew Ference, who distinguished himself in the gruelling seven-game series against the Canucks, says more of the same is needed to succeed.

 "We're going to have to play within our abilities and our strengths -- that's the only way we have a hope of winning," Ference admits.

 "So hitting and investing on those hits and being fast and being physical on those guys is just a part of our game plan and part of the way we play against any team."

 Captain Jarome Iginla, who overcame punishing checks from Canucks defenceman Mattias Ohlund in providing a scoring punch in the first round, expects more of the same.

 "We expect it to be tough," says Iginla, who failed to score in four games against Detroit this season. "It was very tough against Vancouver but it was fun competing against that D. They were very hard to beat physically with (Ed) Jovanovski and (Marek) Malik but now it's going to be a challenge for us as forwards against (Nicklas) Lydstrom, (Mathieu) Schneider, (Derian) Hatcher and (Chris) Chelios.

 "They're some of the best D-men in the league as a group, as individuals, and they're also very good defensively as a team, so we expect it to be tough and we're going to work for our goals."


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