Stanley would be Sweder

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 4:01 PM ET


 Marcus Nilson has never won the Sunshine Cup.

 No big loss.

 Especially if he beats the Tampa Bay Lightning for an even bigger prize.

 Nilson, who spent most of the last four seasons on a full-time basis with the Florida Panthers, has come up on the short end of the stick in each of those campaigns in the annual battle for bragging rights between the state's two clubs.

 Seeing as the Lightning claimed Southeast Division titles in each of the last two seasons while the Panthers have been constantly found at or near the bottom of the standings, it's easy to see who's had the upper hand.

 "A couple of years weren't too bad but this year was a little harder," Nilson said.

 "It's not like the Battle of Alberta, though. I was only in one Battle of Alberta, the day I got here. It used to be a lot bigger than it is right now, the Battle of Florida.

 "The fans aren't really into it there so it's not as much of a big deal."

 Not like the upcoming best-of-seven showdown for the Stanley Cup.

 Nilson will go into the series, which begins tonight, as the Flames player with the most knowledge of the opposition.

 Knowledge he can impart on his teammates as they gear up.

 "I talked a bit with the coaching staff but they knew pretty much everything," said the Swedish forward.

 "There were just a few little details from having played them so many times the last four or five years."

 Having played the most games against the Lightning, Nilson has something else his teammates don't: The most hatred for the Bolts.

 "Of course, you have that ... but I don't think it's going to come from having been in Florida," he said.

 True, there's something bigger.

 "It's the Stanley Cup finals," he said. "I know it's in Florida but (Tampa) is still a 45-minute flight from where I was (Miami) ... But the big thing is it's the Stanley Cup final."

 As for what he told his coaches and teammates, Nilson was coy.

 "They're really, really good offensively," he said.

 "They're a great team with a lot of offence, a lot of speed and a very good goalie.

 "It's going to be a tough series."


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