Calgary vs. Montreal

ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:40 AM ET

They may have lacked the finish, the killer instinct, the competence or the wins, but the Calgary Stampeders never lost their confidence.

Throughout a three-game skid that ended last week with a win over Saskatchewan, the Stampeders managed to maintain a cockiness many figured was unbefitting their record, which is now just 4-4.

Following yesterday's final practice before tonight's showdown with Montreal, the mood in the dressing room was such that it was hard to decipher which was the undefeated squad.

While there may never be an ideal time to face a 7-0 team in any sport, the Stamps figure now is the perfect juncture to face the perennial powerhouse.

"It's probably the best time," smiled former Alouettes receiver Jeremaine Copeland, while music pumped and teammates be-bopped around him.

"They're seven-and-oh, coming in with a cocky swagger like Montreal always does. Heading into our first break (next week) with a 5-4 record after a win against the top team in the East -- I really think it could take us to the next level. We really expect to go out there to win."

This despite the fact the Als have the league's steadiest QB in Anthony Calvillo and the winningest coach in CFL lore.

"Before we played Saskatchewan," said Stampeders head coach Tom Higgins,

"I asked the players what they thought was the difference between our team and Montreal.

"In my mind, it's the Alouettes think they'll win every time they step on the field. Well, that process is somewhat back here. We feel really good about the possibility of pulling off a win."

All this backbone because of one borderline win against a shaky Saskatchewan club?

"That win definitely changes the dynamics," said Stampeders linebacker Scott Coe.

"If we lost, there would be another 100 media types in here asking why we lost four in a row.

"We almost had to treat it like a playoff game: The pressure was on and we stepped up.

"Now we've got that feeling back and you can come in feeling a little bit looser. We always have that confidence but we have a little more now that we have a streak going."

His tongue was planted fully in cheek, of course, with regards to a streak but the message is clear -- the Stamps feel they are every bit as capable of being the league's team to beat, as they did before last year's playoffs when they went in winning eight of their last nine.

"They're 7-0 and they're ready to get bumped off," said Coe, point blank.

"We've got nothing to lose. It's a good situation to be in."

The pessimist would suggest back-to-back meetings with Montreal, albeit separated by a bye week, could spell disaster for any club, especially one still trying to prove it can challenge the league's elite.

However, in the midst of a rapid rebuilding phase in which visions of Grey Cups have danced in their heads since training camp, quarterback Henry Burris says the Stamps refuse to be intimidated.

"We know we can play with anyone and (tonight's game is) as good a time as any to prove it," he said.


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