First night jammed with pressure

TODD SAELHOF -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 12:58 PM ET


 The nerves hit Brennan Evans long before the puck dropped Tuesday night for his NHL debut.

 It was somewhere on Macleod Trail amid the gridlock of rush-hour traffic en route to the Saddledome for Game 3.

 "I was definitely more nervous being stuck in traffic trying to get here than when I finally got here," said the 22-year-old, who suited up on the Flames blueline for injured Rhett Warrener. "I was panicking. I was thinking about parking my car and just running to the rink. But I finally got ... off the street that was packed. I was cruising down back alleys and side streets to get here."

 Certainly the traffic jam, caused by an accident, was nerve-racking enough.

 Then there was the pressure of having his parents in the crowd after they made the quick trip south from his native Camrose.

 And, of course, it was his first NHL game -- a second-round playoff appearance as a defenceman against the highly skilled Detroit Red Wings in a Cup-crazy hockey city.

 "I remember my first NHL game," said Mike Commodore, Evans' only blueline partner on the evening. "It was against Florida when I was with New Jersey in the middle of Christmas time. I was nervous. Then Scott Stevens came up and shook my hand after warm-up and said, 'Good luck,' and then I was really nervous.

 "But Brennan? He looked pretty calm. I thought he handled it really well."

 For Evans, one shift was enough for him to appreciate the pace of big-league hockey. After all, Steve Yzerman, Brett Hull and Henrik Zetterberg were among the Wings he faced.

 "Sure it was only one shift," said Commodore. "But it was a quality 32 seconds."

 Evans agreed.

 "It was a quality 32 seconds," he said. "That's what I'll tell people."


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