Bracing for the worst

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:28 AM ET

Let's be honest: The New York Islanders are no San Jose Sharks.

So how do you go from an emotional victory over the league's best team to a date with the league's worst performer 48 hours later and avoid a letdown?

Calgary Flames head coach Mike Keenan says it started in practice yesterday as his Flames prepared for tonight's tilt against the Isles.

"Well, we began addressing it today in trying to drive the tempo of our practice up and have a sense of urgency in the practice so that those instincts will surface tomorrow as we go into the game," said Keenan after putting his charges through a short but fast-paced and competitive practice at the Saddledome.

The 'trap' games are no myth. It's been seen in every sport time after time, and is as much emotional letdown as it is physical fatigue following a big win.

"There's also the possibility, or has been, for any athlete to have an emotional letdown after a big series or big game, and divisional games," said Keenan. "But I think that our team looked fresh today, looked prepared, and are preparing for tomorrow's game."

The Islanders are coming in cold, winning just twice since November, but they gave the Edmonton Oilers trouble in the early going of Monday night's match, jumping to a 2-0 lead before watching it slip away at Rexall Place in a 3-2 Oilers comeback victory.

Still, the Flames know better than to take them lightly.

"There are no easy games in this league, regardless of who you're playing," said Keenan. "There's always capable players and pride at stake, and competitive instincts that surface during every contest. We have to be ready for it, and I expect we will be ready for it."

Two minutes for fighting?

One of the hottest topics following the Flames' 5-2 win over the Sharks was the sequence between Alexei Semenov and Andre Roy, who fought twice in a matter of minutes but only sat in the bench for four apiece.

The first one was over quickly as they fell to the ice in a heap.

So, with pride on the line, they dropped gloves right after getting back out onto the ice.

After winning the decision with a strong left to Semenov's face, Roy couldn't believe the pair was again hit with co-incidental minors for roughing.

"When I saw the two again, I started laughing. It was like, 'Is he kidding me?' " said Roy. "I don't know man, if that's a roughing (penalty), I'll take a lot more."

The Flames tough guy figures it was a personal thing between himself and ref Bill McCreary, who Roy said "hates" him.

"Everyone has been talking about this, how it's such a joke and it's kind of an embarrassment to me, I guess," Roy said. "Probably, he just wanted to make me look bad."

CLUB INKS JUNIOR STAR AULIE

Fresh off a gold-medal performance at the world junior championships, defenceman Keith Aulie added some more to his bounty by signing an entry-level deal with the Calgary Flames.

Picked in the fourth round, 116th overall in the 2007 NHL draft, the 6-foot-6, 217-lb. Brandon Wheat Kings captain had one assist in five games with Team Canada at the world juniors.


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