Linden holding grudge on goal

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 5:14 PM ET


 VANCOUVER -- A couple of images come to Trevor Linden's mind when reminiscing about the 1989 playoffs.

 But one looms large.

 "The puck (being) kicked in," the long-time Canucks forward said.

 No matter what Calgary Flames fans think of that seven-game, first-round thriller, to anyone from Canuckland, Flames centre Joel Otto booted the overtime series winner into the cage.

 "I still tell (referee) Billy McCreary that," Linden said. "He just looks at me funny. We were pretty overmatched, obviously, but we found an identity through that series a bit and gave them everything they could handle."

 It was an identity that paid a dividend five years later when the teams met again in the playoffs.

 This time, the Flames blew a 3-1 series lead by dropping the final three tilts in overtime.

 The Canucks took that momentum all the way to the seventh game of the Stanley Cup finals.

 "We were underdogs again, for sure," said Linden, who'll play his third playoff series against the Flames when the clubs renew acquaintances tomorrow night.

 "We were a team that had one foot in the grave and managed to escape somehow."

 Ten years later, the shoe is on the other foot. This time, Linden's Canucks are expected to win.

 They're the veteran squad, especially in terms of playoff experience.

 They claimed the division crown.

 They finished ahead in the standings and go into the post-season party with Stanley Cup aspirations.

 Calgary is much like the Vancouver squad from 1994 -- young, hungry, looking to make its mark.

 Linden and his teammates are bracing for a fight.

 "They're a group that's really found their identity, that's a big thing and a big part of the playoffs," Linden said. "You're not going to beat Calgary playing fancy. They've got a physical team and play real straight up. There's no gimmicks to their game, so we're going to have to match that.

 "And they've got, in my opinion, the best player in the league," he added. "Jarome Iginla is, if not the best, very close to the best player in the league and that presents challenges."

 The Medicine Hat product said he wasn't a Flames fan growing up ("I liked Lanny McDonald, watched the Flames a bit and went to some of the games but I was a Medicine Hat Tigers fan") but knows firsthand how intense the Flames-Canucks rivalry can be.

 "It's the geographical closeness of the two teams," Linden said. "There's a lot of B.C. people in Alberta and a lot of Albertans out here. It'll be fun. It'll be intense. It'll be an inspired series."

 Guaranteed to fill the memory banks.


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