Sutter's tunnel vision focused on Cup

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 4:37 PM ET

 His players are so close to the Stanley Cup, he can see it in their faces -- tantalizingly close yet still out of reach.

 Win tonight against Tampa and Darryl Sutter's Calgary Flames complete a feat unimaginable just two months ago.

  Asked yesterday if his players -- a mixture of playoff veterans and post-season neophytes -- will be distracted by the glimmer of hockey's silver dream, Sutter steadfastly denied the goal is a distraction.

 "I don't think so," argued Sutter, who might be manning the Flames bench for the final time tonight.

 Sutter has hinted he could step down as Flames head coach, assuming only the GM's duties, after this season.

 "I don't think our guys are (distracted)," he said. "They don't get too big on themselves. I think we saw that right away after (a 1-0 loss) in Game 4. Only thing that I saw in the team, the first time ever, was how frustrated they were because they thought they played well and they thought they got a little (of the) short end.

 "That's the only time I have seen anything in the whole playoffs that has demonstrated any sort of not being totally focused."

 Sutter said his team, within reach of its first Stanley Cup since 1989, is preparing for tonight's game just like every other Game 6 this spring, which his Flames have won two out of three.

 "To me, I don't even look at it like it's that big a deal," Sutter said.

 "It's like we were preparing for Game 6 against Vancouver and then we had to go get ready for Game 7.

 "That's how I have kind of looked at it. You know, we have been asked that when we were up 2-1 and it's normal to be asked those questions when you are up 2-1 in a series or up 1-0. Do you have the killer instinct to win one more? Well, if you have played 110 or how many games we've played, I think both teams have a killer instinct."

 Sutter suggested the Flames' playoff push provided a test just as tough as the Cup final.

 "It's really tough to make the playoffs," Sutter said.

 "It's harder than anybody in this room understands. So once you get in, then anything happens. That's a fact."


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