"The atmosphere here is going to be a little more unique just because (the Flames have) been in the playoffs for a long time. It's the 'C' of Red. It's known around the (NHL), so I expect it to be just as loud as the United Center."
-- Rene Bourque
The Calgary Flames haven't given their red-clad faithful much to cheer about in recent weeks. That would change in the space of one victory Monday night — igniting Calgary's famous "C" of Red, and touching off celebrations on the downtown Red Mile for fans just waiting for something to celebrate.
The Flames expect a deafening reception at the Pengrowth Saddledome for Game 3 of this Western Conference Quarterfinal (9:30 p.m. ET, VERSUS, TSN) against the Chicago Blackhawks.
"I think it will be just as loud, if not louder, here," said forward Rene Bourque, comparing the roar to Chicago's United Center. "The atmosphere here is going to be a little more unique just because (the Flames have) been in the playoffs for a long time. It's the 'C' of Red. It's known around the (NHL), so I expect it to be just as loud as the United Center."
Chirped Flames center Craig Conroy: "Chicago was loud, but Calgary will be louder ...Calgary never likes to be outdone."
The Flames had looked like serious Stanley Cup contenders on March 4, when General Manager Darryl Sutter bagged the biggest name on trade-deadline day, Olli Jokinen, and also picked up defenseman Jordan Leopold. One night later, the Flames manhandled the Philadelphia Flyers, 5-1. But since then, very little has gone right in Flames Nation.
Miikka Kiprusoff has provided something less than his usual otherworldly standard of goaltending. The Flames' defensive corps was decimated by injury. The offense dried up, with an ugly 10-game, 0-for-43 power-play outage and the likes of Jokinen and Jarome Iginla in deep funks.
The Flames yakked up the Northwest Division pennant to Vancouver on the third-to-last day of the season, going 7-11-0 down the stretch, and are now in a 2-0 hole against Chicago to begin the first round of playoffs.
Still, the "C" of Red has been known to cause visiting teams to lose their bearings.
"It'll be huge for us tonight," forward David Moss told NHL.com. "This building is loud, and it can definitely shift the momentum.
"This city is waiting for a win. Hopefully, by doing that tonight, we can kind of spark this thing, get everyone behind us, and start rolling."
The Flames felt there were encouraging signs during the first two games of this series, but recognize their margin for error is now effectively gone.
"We feel (the two-game hole) is a lot of our doing," Iginla said. "Not staying on the pedal. Not staying physical. Not doing those things. Chicago's a good, young skating team. They create a lot, and they create a lot quickly. But we've shown that when we stay on them, and stay physical and aggressive and intense, we get results."
Flames defenseman Adrian Aucoin was even more blunt, telling NHL.com: "We've definitely shown that when we play our style, we're the better team. I think they know it, and we know it — that when we're rolling, we're definitely going to beat 'em."