Flames know do or die

SCOTT FISHER -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 4:48 PM ET


 Momentum has meant little in this series.

 Home ice has meant even less.

 Which makes tonight's Game 7 impossible to predict.

 Then again, that's usually the case in any series that goes the distance.

 Flames enforcer Krzysztof Oliwa has been through a seven-game set before. His New Jersey Devils escaped with a 2-1 double-OT victory in Dallas in Game 7 of the 2000 Finals.

 Home ice, he says, isn't all that important in a one-game showdown.

 "We won in Dallas," said Oliwa. "At this point, I don't think (home ice) really matters.

 "We've played there about 13 times including pre-season, so it's not exactly home but you get used to the arena.

 "But you can't afford to have a bad shift. Both teams are going to be ready."

 Other Flames -- Stephane Yelle and Martin Gelinas, for example -- have emerged victorious in Game 7s at some point in their NHL careers while wearing different uniforms. But they were resting comfortably at home yesterday following Saturday night's triple-overtime marathon.

 But nearly everyone's faced a one-game showdown at some level.

 "In college it was win and you move on, lose and you go home," said winger Chris Clark.

 D-man Mike Commodore has been in the same boat.

 "My first two years, we had great teams and got to the quarter-finals and lost," Commodore said of his time at University of North Dakota. "My third year, we weren't expecting to win but ended up going the whole way.

 "So I have a little experience, not to say that it's the same thing. A seven-game series is a lot harder to win than a one-game deal.

 "There's nothing left to save it for so you have to do whatever it takes Monday night."

 Jordan Leopold captained the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers to the 2002 NCAA championship but not after a little heartbreak along the way.

 "In 2001, we lost to Maine in overtime and I'll never forget that one," Leopold said. "But the next year, we came back and won the national title in overtime. So it ended up being a good learning experience.

 "This is a different scenario but it's a one-game deal.

 "And I think if someone would have told us we'd be in a one-game (situation) where we could win, we probably would've taken it."

 The series has been a hard-fought, physical affair through six games, leaving fans to wonder: Can Game 7 be even more intense?

 Assistant coach Jim Playfair believes it will be.

 "There's going to be a lot of juice and excitement, just like there was in our building," Playfair said.

 "If you look at details of the games already played, there's been a lot of emotion and there's been a toll taken on people's bodies.

 "When you bottle it all up into a Game 7, those things aren't important. It's about the shift you're on and the emotion you're playing with."

 CALGARY'S GAME 7 HISTORY

 Four wins and four losses

 * April 26, 1981 -- Quarter-final at Philadelphia 4-1 win

 * April 22, 1984 -- Smythe Division Final at Edmonton 7-4 loss

 * April 30, 1986 -- Smythe Division Final at Edmonton 3-2 win

 * May 14, 1986 -- Campbell Conference Final versus St. Louis 2-1 win

 * April 15, 1989 -- Smythe Division semifinal versus Vancouver 4-3 overtime win

 * April 16, 1991 -- Smythe Division semifinal versus Edmonton 5-4 overtime loss

 * April 30, 1994 -- Western Conference quarter-final versus Vancouver 4-3 2OT loss

 * May 19, 1995 -- Western Conference quarter-final versus San Jose 5-4 2OT loss


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