The Full Monty debuts

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 4:40 PM ET


 Welcome to the NHL playoffs, kid.

 Oh yeah, your debut is a Game 7.

 Welcome to Steve Montador's world.

 Denis Gauthier's "lower-body injury" (read: knee) that makes him doubtful for tonight's clash in Vancouver will likely mean another Calgary Flames skater will see the ice for their first playoff game.

 "He's our secret weapon for Game 7," said fellow defenceman Mike Commodore.

 Upon hearing that, Montador said: "My mom always joked they were saving me for something. Maybe this is it."

 His team could sure use one more spark.

 Coming off Saturday night's disappointing loss -- they erased a four-goal deficit yet ended up losing 5-4 in overtime -- Montador and his mates have an all-or-nothing chance to propel the squad to the second round for the first time since 1989.

 It's a ton of extra pressure on the 24-year-old but Montador believes his experience going through the season as the seventh defenceman leaves him at the ready.

 "Doing it all year will help me prepare," said the blueliner who was born in Vancouver but moved before his first birthday. "I've been focusing every day all year, especially during the playoffs, this day might come.

 "I'm going to prepare like I've done every day."

 While it's a feel-good story for Montador -- especially since his father, Paul, who has made the trek from Ontario -- the same can't be said for Gauthier.

 The second-longest serving member of the Flames left the game in the third period after driving Canucks defenceman Brent Sopel into the boards.

 Gauthier arrived yesterday at the Saddledome using crutches but was not made available to the media.

 Assistant coach Jim Playfair wouldn't divulge any details other than it was a lower-body injury and Gauthier was doubtful for tonight's match.

 "Steve's our next soldier," Playfair said succinctly. "He's done a good job all year coming in, we've done a good job over the course of the season moving players in and out due to injuries and various situations but we'll be ready to go."

 Montador won't be expected to provide an injection of offence -- he had one goal and two assists in 26 games this season -- but will bring fresh legs, a big deal after Saturday night's triple-OT thriller.

 "It was pretty tiring, I could only imagine how the players felt," he said of the last game. "But it's over now and we have a game tomorrow."

 WHO'S PLAYING, WHO'S NOT

 FLAMES --Steve Montador will replace the injured Denis Gauthier. Other than that, the Flames figure to stick with the same lineup.

 CANUCKS -- No new injuries reported for Vancouver.


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