Flames fuelled by faith

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:39 AM ET

Confidence might be the key to a Calgary Flames comeback.

It might also be a contributing factor for the reason they're trailing their NHL first-round playoffs series 2-0 to the Chicago Blackhawks.

Coming home after a pair of 3-2 losses at the United Center, the Flames weren't hanging their heads.

In fact, Michael Cammalleri went as far as making a prediction.

"We're still going to win the series," Cammalleri said casually, when asked about the confidence that seemed obvious yesterday in the Flames locker-room at the Saddledome.

Shades of Mark Messier, who facing elimination guaranteed victory against the New Jersey Devils in the spring of 1994?

Messier backed it up with a hat-trick that forced Game 7 in the Eastern Conference final. His New York Rangers went on to win the Stanley Cup.

The man behind that bench -- Flames head coach Mike Keenan.

We'll see whether Cammalleri comes through with a clutch performance in tonight's Game 3, at the Saddledome as the series shifts to Calgary.

His point is simple, however: The Blackhawks have claimed all six meetings between the two clubs this season, but the Flames don't feel the foe is in their heads.

"I really don't feel that way. I don't think we feel that way. That's not the sense of things in our room," Cammalleri said. "I could see how you would create that thought looking at the stats, but it really doesn't seem to feel that way. We're ready to beat them a bunch."

They can start with Game 3 tonight.

And they'd better make sure the confidence doesn't become overconfidence.

Being a little too satisfied after taking leads three times against the Hawks in the series might be the biggest reason their opponent was able to come back each time.

"We just have to have our composure," said Flames centre Craig Conroy.

"We can't get too high when we get a couple of goals ... It seems like the bench is alive, and then we hit lows when they come back."

Many Flames fans gave up on their team when Hawks captain Jonathan Toews scored what would be the winning goal in the last 30 seconds of the second period of Game 2.

The players aren't giving up.

No Flames team has ever come back from a two-game deficit, but Conroy says there is a logical reason they feel they'll be fine facing the task of four wins with five games to play in the series.

"Because we've played well at times," Conroy said. "We've shown when we play the way we're capable, it's there for the taking. It's frustrating."

That's how the fans felt, although there's little doubt the Sea of Red will be as supportive and boisterous as ever.

"We believe in this room we can do it, and now we've got to go on that ice and do it and prove to the Blackhawks we can do it," Conroy said. "You can't ever have that defeatist attitude, or you're done."

"You've got to believe."


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