Most Calgary Flames players lack Game 7 experience in the NHL playoffs, but their coach does.
Daryl Sutter holds the all-time record among NHL coaches at 7-3 in a best of seven streak reaching the Game 7 final.
His eleventh game 7 will come Sunday when the Flames and Dallas Stars quarterfinals wrap up their conference in Saddledome.
The 63-year-old will move from Viking, Alta. , to the top of the list ahead of Claude Julien, Mike Keenan and Mike Babcock, all 10.
The Flames have not played a game of 7 in a series since 2008. Ten players in the current Calgary squad have never won a playoff series, while all but four of the Superstars have.
The Flames beat the Vancouver Canucks in overtime in the opening round to advance, but lost to Lightning in the haul cup final.
“I’ve been through a lot of them,” Sutter admitted on Saturday. “I got them through here. The last time this team went to the finals, we lost game 7, but to get to that game 7, you had to win game seven.”
Sutter was back in flames just over a year ago. Sail the Flames (50-21-11) to the top of the Pacific Division in his first full season behind the Calgary seat.
So there’s a lot of weight on the Flames to close the series with a home win on Sunday and have gone past the first round for only the second time since the 2004 Cup final.
“Stress is a good thing,” Sutter said. “In the long run, that’s what separates you from you and I’ve had so many of these sevens in the game. That, in the end, is what separates you from your place in the league as well as a player.
“For the guys who weren’t into the sevens game, it’s time to step up too. There are guys in this series who haven’t been as productive as they would like. It’s a chance to be a champion too.”
Watch | Stars best flame to force game 7:
The Stars doubled the Flames 4-2 in Game Six on Friday at American Airlines Arena until the series reached Calgary for a high stakes score.
Thanks in large part to the work of Dallas goalkeeper Jake Oettinger and Calgary counterpart Jacob Markstrom, the streak was low-scoring. The Flames produced seven equal power goals while the Stars scored six in their first six matches.
“This series deserves to get a 7,” Sutter said.
Injuries on both sides
Both teams are facing injury problems before the seventh game. Star striker Luke Glending did not play the third inning on Friday after receiving a blow on the open ice from Calgary defender Nikita Zadorov.
All-Star coach Rick Bowman said the striker passed concussion protocol and a lower-body injury kept him off the bench in the third.
No penalty was charged for the play, however Zadorov was called to an NHL player safety hearing on Saturday for an illegal head check.
The NHL said in its ruling that there was significant head contact, but Zadorov took the appropriate approach angle, didn’t extend outward or up, and hit Glendening’s heart. Consider contact with the head unavoidable.
“It was a hockey game,” Sutter said. “I don’t fully agree that a hearing should be held because there is so much trouble in this series.”
Chris Tanev also did not finish the sixth match. Calgary’s top defender was injured early in the second half and did not return to the game.
Tanev walked across the team’s chartered flight deck on Saturday without noticeable obstructions, but Sutter did not predict Tanev’s situation on Sunday.
“He’ll see the doctors and get some treatments today,” the coach said.
“You want to have emotion, but there is balance”
Winger Milan Lucic is the most experienced in the torch in the seventh games with 4-6 in 10 matches.
“You want to have emotion, but there’s a balance,” Lucic said. “You want to get the emotion where you’re packing it and using it the right way, not letting it get the best of you.
“You remember when you were a kid and you were about to run a big race, and you feel like you’ve been punched in the stomach before you even started. It’s that kind of feeling.
“You want to tune this out and put it in a positive light. This is the time when the big players play big plays and get them done.”
When it comes to the pressure of a 7 game, Sutter embraces standing in the eye of a hockey hurricane.
“It’s a quiet place,” said the coach. “I love that part of it. It’s like being in the middle of it and I’ve always enjoyed it.”