Ex-Avs offer sage advice

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 3:15 PM ET


 TAMPA -- Don't expect Ville Nieminen to don a cardigan sweater and pull a Mr. Rogers.

 "There will be no story telling," Nieminen insisted yesterday.

 "There's no story time."

 Even though the Calgary Flames forward has been through a Stanley Cup final Game 7, he won't be regaling his teammates with tales to help them cope with it all.

 Going through a seventh game in the NHL playoffs is a big deal.

 Doing it with the Stanley Cup up for grabs, which the Flames and Tampa Bay Lightning will do tonight, is on a whole different level.

 Nieminen and Stephane Yelle are two Flames who've gone through the experience before, having both been part of the the Colorado Avalanche squad that knocked off New Jersey in 2001.

 They know all about the hype, the emotion, the nerves, the rush. They also know all about the elation the comes from winning with so much up for grabs.

 Coping with it all is the key.

 "You end up playing one game to win the Stanley Cup. You know it's your last game and have to give it all you've got," said Yelle, who's won a pair of Cups.

 "We have to approach it like any game. We know what's at stake but you have to approach it with the same focus as any other playoff game.

 "Just stick to your game plan and go from there."

 That's the message both veterans will give to their teammates, although the experience of what transpired in Saturday's disappointing Game 6 -- in which the Flames were admittedly nervous -- will likely hit home even harder.

 "Everybody's dreaming about Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final," Nieminen said.

 "But we should know by now."

 One difference for the former Avalanche players is playing a deciding game on the road. When they won with Colorado, Yelle and Nieminen had the benefit of home-ice advantage, which has proven to be a boon in the past.

 Home teams have won 12 of the 14 previous Cup finals that went the distance.

 Nieminen, whose team has won 10 road clashes and would set a record with another victory, doesn't see that as a disadvantage.

 "It's good to be on the road," he said. "I think we feel it's good to be on the road for this one."


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