Players escape playoff frenzy

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 1:21 PM ET


 An army of roadies marched into the Saddledome yesterday, building the stage for last night's Metallica concert.

 Some Flames crashers and bashers planned to mix among the thrashers, revelling in a noisy diversion to the intense Stanley Cup playoffs that resume Sunday in San Jose.

 The roar of the 'Dome packed with music fans served as a chance for some players to escape playoff pressure and cross over to the other side, joining the crowd instead of providing the high-decibel spectacle that has inhabited the rink the past few weeks.

 "You're excited about (the attention) and happy about it and appreciate all the love they've been giving us but to come and be a part of 20,000 screaming fans in the crowd is certainly a way (to relax) and we're going to do it," explained Flames defenceman Steve Montador.

 A respite from the attention players have drawn during their surprising playoff run can also be won at home.

 Families are trying to get the most out of their hockey dads and husbands before Round 3 begins with tomorrow's flight to San Jose for the opening two games of the Western Conference final.

 "It's true but it's been fun -- it hasn't happened since I've been here and at the end of the year, it's usually disappointing but we've been on a roll and everybody wants to talk about it," offers Flames winger Chris Clark, drafted by Calgary a decade ago before becoming a regular starter three seasons ago.

 "When I get home the distractions of my daughter kind of take it away so just playing with her and doing those kinds of things kind of keep me away from hockey. If I didn't have her in my life I'd probably sit there and watch the news or just think about hockey all the time. Kids are a good distraction to have then when you come to the rink it's all hockey."

 Adds Game 6 overtime hero Martin Gelinas: "My kids have plays at school and I've been trying to spend a little time with the family. We know it's going to get crazy again, so I try to get away that way. So I just do what needs to be done around the house but today was back to our focus on what we have to do and Sunday is a big game."

 Captain Jarome Iginla, who probably draws even more attention away from the rink than he does on the ice, is choosing to lay low on off days, recharging his batteries for the next round.

 "The last couple of days it was more a time to lay around, watch some movies and let the body heal," Iginla said.

 "It's been great around town, people honking their horns ... and it's been great for us as players to play in a city that is excited about it and enjoying it with us and we all want to keep going as a group."

 Winger Marcus Nilson, acquired by the Flames just a couple of months ago, says escaping the frenzy away from the rink isn't easy although he accepts the adulation as part of the game when the team exceeds expectations.


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