CALGARY — Their playoff series doesn't start until Thursday, but Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving has already countered with a shot across the bow of the Anaheim Ducks.
Treliving called Ducks GM Bob Murray's criticism of Calgary captain Mark Giordano "asinine" on Monday.
Murray said Giordano went for Cam Fowler's knee when he collided with the Ducks' defenceman in a 3-1 Anaheim home win last Tuesday.
"Well, he's done this before," Murray said two days after the game. "I have no respect for people who go after knees.
"I'm sorry, but knees, they wreck your careers real quick. I don't like it."
Murray said Fowler is out four-to-six weeks. Fowler is Anaheim's top-scoring defenceman with 11 goals and 28 assists while averaging a team-high 25 minutes of ice time per game.
Giordano wasn't penalized on the play. He fought Ducks defenceman Josh Manson in a fractious third period that featured a combined 106 penalty minutes.
Treliving said Murray's ulterior motive with his opinion was to plant a seed in officials' minds ahead of their playoff matchup that the Flames are a dirty team.
"For someone to suggest that Mark Giordano is a dirty player or it was an intentional hit, those are asinine comments," Treliving said. "I don't think making comments about opposing players . . . there's a method to the madness there.
"It's to try to put something in the officials heads going into the series."
Giordano spoke of moving on from the incident. But he'll likely be the villain at the Honda Centre for the first two games Thursday and Saturday in their best-of-seven series.
"As far as Fowler, I hope he's OK," Giordano said. "It was never my intent to obviously injure a guy.
"But it's in the past. As a team and as an individual, we're just focusing on the series."
The Flames reached the second round of playoffs two years ago without Giordano, who'll see his first post-season action in a decade.
The 33-year-old from Toronto was a Norris Trophy candidate in 2014-15 before tearing his bicep Feb. 25.
He watched from the press box as his team beat Vancouver in six games in the first round and then lost to Anaheim in five in the second.
"We all know what he means to this team," Treliving said. "To get a chance to play at this time of year, I can't think of anybody more deserving and more excited than Mark is."
The Fowler incident and ensuing comments pour gasoline on the natural animosity between the playoff combatants.
"There's going to be a lot of games within the game," veteran forward Matt Stajan said. "Gio is one of our best players so he'd probably be a target anyway.
"Gio responded when all that happened."
With almost 100 games of playoff experience, winger Troy Brouwer says the post-season isn't the place for vigilante justice. He added the Flames can't afford to be goaded.
"They're not going to do anything that's going to compromise winning hockey games," Brouwer said. "It's going to be a physical series and we can't get sucked into that.
"We've been one of the most penalized teams throughout the regular season and that's something that really needs to change going into the playoffs. Special teams, a lot of the time, can be the difference in the series."
Centre Sean Monahan and defenceman Dennis Wideman didn't skate Monday. Treliving said they were "fine" and taking a "maintenance day."
Goaltender Chad Johnson, who sustained a lower-body injury and was relieved by Brian Elliott just over five minutes into the game in Anaheim, practised alone prior to the team skate. He took shots from goaltending coach Jordan Sigalet.
Jon Gillies will back up Elliott until Johnson's return.
Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press