Keeping cool on home ice

TODD SAELHOF -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 4:57 PM ET

 They'll skate out to a C of Red and the loudest crowd in eight long years.

 Thrilling stuff, to be sure, for the Calgary Flames tonight at the Saddledome.

  "Actually, yeah ... it'll be fun," said Flames veteran defenceman Rhett Warrener on the eve of their Game 3 match against the Vancouver Canucks. "This city's been waiting a long time for a playoff game, so we want to come out and not disappoint them -- that's for sure."

 Assistant captain Craig Conroy agreed: "We're going to go out there and the fans are going to be very excited. It's going to be loud out there. But we have to play with some composure. Emotion, too, but under-control emotion."

 Which is no easy task for a team lacking playoff experience. For many Flames players, it'll be like another playoff debut -- their second in just five days. The first came Wednesday in Vancouver when Game 1 marked the first time the Flames had made a playoff appearance in eight years.

 Tonight's tilt is the first home date in eight springs.

 And the Flames don't want to relive the nerves -- and subsequent 5-3 loss -- of Wednesday night.

 "It is going to be great to play in front of our home crowd and a packed building," said Flames captain Jarome Iginla, who cited Salt Lake City in the 2002 Winter Olympics gold-medal match as the loudest environment in which he's played. "But at the same time, we have to make sure that we aren't over-hyped and excited. It's our responsibility as players to prepare ourselves so as not to get too hyped and excited -- maybe learn from that first game."

 "I think the big thing is we've gotta be smarter," added Conroy. "We know they're calling a lot of penalties. We're trying to stay out of the box. We gotta come out with a little bit better start.

 "I think we learned a very big lesson in that first game. It was a tough lesson to learn and now we have to move forward. So hopefully that experience can carry over into this game. But it's going to be so exciting to play here in front of the home fans."

 It's also going to be loud, which raises concerns about being able to communicate on the ice. But the players thrive in that atmosphere.

 The so-called seventh man is certainly welcome in the Flames' push to upend the Canucks.

 "I'm looking forward to the fans' reaction," said Flames defenceman Denis Gauthier. "I don't think (we'll be over-hyped). I think the first playoff games are behind us for a lot of us. Now it's just back to business. We know the work and the job that needs to be done.

 "We're going to be excited to play in front of our fans, for sure. But I don't think it'll be a case of being over-excited. They're just going to pump us up even more.

 "I expect us to come out really strong, regardless."


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