Once more, with feeling

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 3:06 PM ET


 TAMPA -- You could almost hear Frank Sinatra singing That's Life in the background as Jarome Iginla and the Calgary Flames faced the music here yesterday.

 They gagged on the big game to close out a Stanley Cup final at home. Couldn't close. Reverted to their Flame-out history when the 'C' on the sweater stood for something other than Champion.

 But it was a new day. It was Tampa Bay. It was a pick yourself up and get back in the race ... that's life.

 It was tough stuff losing Game 6 at home in double overtime to the Tampa Bay Lightning, especially when photographic evidence proved you'd won it on a goal by Martin Gelinas late in the third period. But the Flames came here yesterday telling themselves they're made out of tough enough stuff to become only the third team in history to win Game 7 of a Stanley Cup final on the road.

 "Losing that game was rough," said Iginla. "It was tough to take. I mean it was one shot away. It's overtime. It's one shift. So it was pretty down. But it's the playoffs. After every loss in the playoffs it's tough. It's hard. But today you wake up very excited, with the sun shining and you can't wait until the game gets going."

 The Game. Game 7.

 KIDS DREAM ABOUT IT

 The game you dream about as a kid.

 "It's exciting," said the St. Albert kid, who not only put the Stanley Cup on hold when the Flames lost Game 6, but the Conn Smythe Trophy, too.

 "We have played this game a lot as kids, out on the street, on the pond or on backyard rinks. Now we're going to get to play it for real. And for most of us, it's for the first time. I think that's the feeling around our room. It was a tough loss. It was a chance to win the Stanley Cup. But this is definitely very exciting."

 For the first time since 1964 and 1965 the Stanley Cup final has gone a seventh game in consecutive years. Both those series ended up with 4-0 Game 7 wins by the home (Toronto and Montreal) teams.

 Not all Game 7s are thrillers. Last year's was a 3-0 win by New Jersey over Anaheim.

 If it goes seven, you tend to believe it must have been a classic. That was much more true of the first two I've covered - the Edmonton Oilers win over Ron Hextall and the Philadelphia Flyers in 1987 and the New York Rangers win over the Vancouver Canucks in 1994 - than these last two.

 But say what you will about this up-and-down, in-and-out series,. It's been interesting. And while it often hasn't been pretty, it's been easier on the eyes than last year's painful production between New Jersey and Anaheim.

 The thing about Game 7s in the final is that the home team has won 10 of the 12. Only Toronto at Detroit in 1945 and Montreal at Chicago in 1971 have featured winning teams carrying the Cup on visiting ice.

 The sight of Tampa Bay celebrating on Calgary ice Saturday night was enough to inspire Iginla to want to reverse that here.

 "You hear the other team whooping it up in the next locker-room and we want that to be us," said Iginla.

 There's lots of history to be made, too.

 If the Flames bounce back and end up carrying the Cup, it'll be the first time the Stanley Cup and Grey Cup will reside in Alberta at the same time since the Edmonton Oilers won Stanley in May of 1987, the Eskimos the Grey Cup in November of the same calendar year, and the Oilers winning Stanley again in May of 1988.

 IF FLAMES REBOUND ...

 If the Flames rebound, it'll mean seven of the last nine Stanley Cups won by Canadians teams will have been by the two teams in Alberta.

 The Flames also have a chance to become the first team ever to win the Stanley Cup by winning 11 games on the road (or, conversely, going 5-7 at home).

 "We have a chance to set a record with road wins, so that's a positive. It's something we're going to draw on," said Iginla. "We're going to try and play the best road game of our careers.

 "I don't know what it has been with this team and our success on the road in the playoffs. We found ways to probably skate better, be a little more physical and maybe a little more calm. We're such a young group, maybe we got a little over-excited at home because it's such an awesome atmosphere."

 Iginla says all sorts of stuff got to him in Game 6.

 "I didn't play very well," he said.

 "I think in the preparation before the game and all day I was very nervous and very excited. I probably thought about it a little too much. I didn't have the same preparation and unfortunately I was not very good. The exciting part is there is another opportunity for our team and myself to be better and win this thing."


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