Past lessons learned

TODD SAELHOF -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 2:50 PM ET


 The Stanley Cup final is calling the Calgary Flames.

 There's no need to remind the Flames they're just one win away from the NHL championship series.

 That could be tonight's win, in fact, in Game 6 of the Western Conference final against the visiting San Jose Sharks.

 But reminders are all around.

 From a city of red to increased media presence and the pressure of trying to become the first Canadian team to reach the Stanley Cup final in 10 years, it's hard for them not to get caught up in the Cup craze. Not to mention the club has endured its own 15-year drought and each player has his own visions of hoisting Lord Stanley's mug.

 "Up 3-2 and one win away from the Stanley Cup final and we're coming home," said Flames playoff rookie Mike Commodore following yesterday's optional practice at the Saddledome. "It's incredible."

 Playoff veteran Martin Gelinas was more cautious.

 "Let's not start dreaming," he said. "We've got to win (tonight) and obviously it's going to be our toughest challenge."

 Indeed, they'd rather not think beyond Game 6. The opposite kind of thinking has already cost them two games in this series.

 "I don't think that's a problem now," said Flames captain Jarome Iginla. "I think when we were up two games, it was pretty exciting to think we were two games away and we were in pretty good shape.

 "But now, partly learning from that and just seeing how quickly things can go either way, our focus is just on the next game. We realize that (we're) one game away from the Stanley Cup final. But it's still going to be very tough and a hard road and we're prepared for that."

 Flames winger Shean Donovan agreed.

 "Maybe Games 3 and 4 we did kinda let that creep in," he said. "We were thinking a little too ahead of ourselves and we obviously didn't play our game in those two.

 "I think we learned our lesson."

 These Flames have also learned from two previous Game 6s played at the 'Dome.

 Heading into both, the Flames had a chance to clinch against the Vancouver Canucks and Detroit Red Wings in the first and second rounds respectively. Against the Canucks, they came out flat and got behind four goals before losing 5-4 in triple overtime. Against the Red Wings, it was a much different Flames team that won 1-0 in OT to advance to this conference final.

 "It'll be a little more nerve-wracking than the other two Game 6s," said seasoned playoff battler Rhett Warrener. "But every game's a different game and every team's a different team. So it's going to be a different battle."

 One for the right to play for the Stanley Cup? It certainly is different for the Flames.

 "It's been a good ride," said defenceman Andrew Ference. "And we have that much more incentive to keep the ride going."

 A win -- for the team, city and nation -- will do it tonight.


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