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Wednesday, April 28, 2004
Updated: May 6, 2:52 PM ET
Calgary confident but not complacent

Associated Press

CALGARY, Alberta -- Andrew Ference has been around long enough to know that the Calgary Flames have plenty of work left if they're going to eliminate the Detroit Red Wings from the playoffs.

Ference is 25 and in the NHL playoffs for just the second time. But he is the oldest healthy defenseman the Flames have.

That is plenty of experience to realize that the Flames' 2-1 lead in the second-round series is very slight, especially against the team with the NHL's best record in the regular season.

"It's too early," Ference said Wednesday. "When you have veteran players like they have ... they've probably all been through a 2-1 deficit and come back."

The best-of-seven series resumes Thursday in Calgary, where the Flames won Game 3.

"Calgary is in the driver's seat right now," Red Wings coach Dave Lewis said. "We have to find a way to win a hockey game."

Shean Donovan, who scored the winning goal in Monday's 3-2 victory over the Red Wings, said winning two games means nothing if Calgary doesn't win twice more.

"A team like that is pretty confident, and they know what they have to do," he said. "We have been pretty smart about not being too overconfident. We know what kind of team they have, and this is a long road we have."

Desperation would be too strong a word to describe the feeling in the Detroit dressing room, but there definitely was concern.

"You don't want to have a do-or-die for the next three games," forward Kirk Maltby said. "We know we didn't play our best hockey. I think they outworked us and physically took it to us a little bit. We can do a better job."

The Flames earned their first playoff berth in eight years by finishing sixth in the Western Conference. Calgary then won its first playoff series since 1989 by eliminating the third-seeded Vancouver Canucks in seven games.

There were questions about how much fire the Flames had left when they opened this series against Detroit. Ference laughed when he was asked about the Flames' magic in the playoffs.

"It's not magic," he said. "I don't think it's luck or destiny or anything like that. It's hard work. It's playing fast hockey, and that's what we're good at. It's not too complicated. I hope it doesn't get more complicated."