Let's get physical

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 2:53 PM ET


 Hanging in Chris Chelios' stall is a set of Cooperalls. That's right, Cooperalls.

 Remember them?

 Production of the two-piece pants stopped sometime in the 1980s.

 Not the 1880s, it just seems that long ago.

 Beside them are Chelios' shoulder pads, which belong in the Smithsonian.

 So do Brendan Shanahan's.

 "Lots of guys in this room have old equipment," said Detroit Red Wings goaltender Manny Legace. "Hey, it's an old team."

 OK, maybe not everyone appears headed for retirement in Florida but the amount of acne cream in the trainer's room is dwarfed by the number of various liniments for aching muscles.

 Muscles, the Flames insist, they need to make ache much more when their playoff series resumes tonight at the Saddledome.

 Although the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal series is even at a win apiece, there's a prevalent feeling it could end fast if the Flames don't dole out some physical punishment. That doesn't just mean more bodychecks, it means skating the veteran Wings into submission.

 "It starts from our speed," said Calgary GM/head coach Darryl Sutter. "They're a great team at taking time and space away.

 "We're not going to run out of position to hit anybody, that's not the point or the purpose or what it's about.

 "It's about supporting the puck in all situations and, when we do that, our speed allows us to be first or more physical."

 Much like the later stages of a one-sided Game 2 loss in Motown. Unlike most of the first two games, the Flames finally followed the game plan that allowed them to win the opening-round series against Vancouver.

 Oleg Saprykin -- usually the victim of bone-crushing checks -- absolutely rocked Chelios, who went to the dressing room either for repairs or to catch his breath.

 Steve Yzerman was flattened a few times, once by Jarome Iginla and a couple courtesy of pesky Ville Nieminen.

 Although the game was no longer in doubt, it was a sign the Flames could do some damage. Damage, Sutter says, will lead to better offensive chances.

 "Most of it's generated from our end," Sutter said when asked about his squad's lack of shots on goal. "It's not just shooting the puck but based on the first pass and how you play in the neutral (zone). Our game is still based on speed. That's the strength of our team and that doesn't generate from their blueline to the net, it's generated from our goal-line to their net.

 "We can and will do a lot better job of it."

 Certainly the atmosphere will help. Maybe it comes with Stanley Cup expectations but the noise level inside Joe Louis Arena was nowhere near the volume expected tonight when Calgary's fans witness second-round action for the first time in 15 years.

 Make no mistake, the Flames intend to feed off that energy.

 "We've had a lot of big games, none bigger than this one," said Calgary forward Craig Conroy. "They've got that killer instinct, a lot of veteran guys, but we know this series is a long way from over.

 "We establish something and it'll give us a little more confidence."

 Which means, once again, skating.

 "Sometimes we sit back and play passive with them ... and wait for them do something," said Shean Donovan, who has the wheels and size to forecheck. "Teams are supposed to react against us and that's when we're playing our best.

 "There's no more excuses, we've got to go out there and play our game.

 "Every game we played, the next one's bigger than the last. It's home ice, the fans will be fired up and we'll be fired up after being a little embarrassed last game."


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