Bet on being better

SCOTT FISHER -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:21 AM ET

Kelly Kisio isn't one to make predictions.

But he did offer one prognostication leading up to tomorrow's Game 7 against Moose Jaw: The Hitmen will be better than they were in Sunday's Game 6.

Not the riskiest of prophesies. They couldn't possibly have less jump.

"I don't think we can be any worse than what we showed in Moose Jaw on Sunday night," Kisio said.

"I don't know what it was. We talked to them quite a bit about not leaving it to Game 7. Anything can happen, a goalie could get cold, one guy makes a mistake and it's in the net.

"I've never seen a team more flat in all my life. Really. I've never seen anything like it. I think we'll be better but it's up to the kids how much better we'll be."

They'll need to be significantly better than they were Sunday when, thanks to goaltender Justin Pogge, the club held an undeserved 1-0 lead before the wheels completely fell off in the third period.

"Mental toughness has to be the biggest factor in a Game 7," Kisio said. "You can't get out of sorts if things aren't going your way early."

The Hitmen are 2-3 all-time in Game 7s with all three losses coming on the road (in Swift Current, Red Deer and Brandon).

But, after finishing five points ahead of the Warriors during the regular season, Calgary earned the right to host this winner-take-all showdown.

The Hitmen will have last change (perhaps they can find someone to cover Warriors sniper Blair Jones) and what is expected to be a large crowd in their corner.

"But that puts pressure on the home team," Kisio said. "The other team comes in, they're not expected to win and they can go out and play.

"Our guys can't let the crowd over-energize them."

Kisio played in a pair of Game 7s during his 13-year NHL career, both with the Flames. Both ended in double-overtime heartbreakers.

Vancouver Canucks gamebreaker Pavel Bure eliminated the Flames in 1994 and Kisio said he had the best seat in the house to watch the highlight-reel goal.

"I had my skates loosened and was sitting on the end of the bench," he said with a laugh.

"I knew I wasn't getting back out. Dave King wasn't about to put me out at that point."

San Jose's Ray Whitney bounced the Flames the following year.

Kisio said there isn't much in the way of Game 7 wisdom he can pass on to his players.

"It's all about the kids and how bad they want to win," he said.

"They have to look in the mirror and say 'I'm going to lay it on the table and go for it.' "

HIT PARADE: Hitmen coach Kelly Kisio said there was a 50-50 chance LW Kris Deines (thumb) could make his playoff debut tomorrow.


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