Calling out the 'dogs

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 2:01 PM ET


 Once again playing the role of David, the Calgary Flames.

 Head coach Darryl Sutter has installed his charges as Davids versus the gang of Goliaths from San Jose in the Western Conference final.

 "I don't know how you could say we're not an underdog going forward," said Sutter, who coached the Sharks from 1997 to 2003.

 "I mean, we've played the division champ, we've played the Presidents Cup team and now we play San Jose, who won their division ... So I don't know how we're still not an underdog, that's a fact."

 Don't tell that to red-clad Flames fans, some of whom are probably still doing the polka down 17 Ave. S.W.

 Someone has even suggested Cowtown has won the right to be dubbed 'Hockeytown,' poke-checking the title away from Detroit.

 Sutter, however, remains the sea of tranquility amid the Sea of Red as his club regroups to face the Sharks.

 He's shrugging off suggestions the team of overachievers will be swallowed up by the euphoria in the wake of its series win over the Detroit Red Wings.

 "We don't have a problem, it's not that big a deal," Sutter said.

 "It's a game and we've done it all year. The best thing is an even keel and the players talk about it. They handle it really well."

 Sutter said the Flames have proven they've taken a definitive step towards becoming a perennial playoff performer while earning post-season experience this spring is all part of the process. After seven seasons without a playoff berth, the re-tooled Flames have spread responsibility throughout the roster and off the shoulders of its few stars.

 "Everybody has to have some sort of positive input for the team to be successful," Sutter explained. "We started on that last summer. We have to continue to work on it. We have to be able to build an identity. We've started it and we'll continue to work on it."

 That identity would be a byproduct of claiming the conference title or a Stanley Cup win, something Sutter and Co. aren't shy about pointing to as their next goal.

 "Win a championship," Sutter stated. "How do you win a championship? The goals we set last summer and how you make the playoffs, continue to do that and add to that.

 "I think our goal this year (was to beat) the team that finished in eighth spot last year. That was Edmonton and they're a fast team that works hard.

 "So (we thought) we're not going to go out and buy and rent, so let's make sure our young guys are fast and work hard."


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