"I'm a firm believer that the way you learn how to win is to go
through difficult losing and finding out how to get over that,"
McCarty said Sunday before the Flames' flight to California for
Game 6 of its Western Conference matchup.
The Flames lead the best-of-seven series 3-2 and can eliminate
the Mighty Ducks with a win Monday night.
Many of the key pieces in the Flames' trek to the 2004 Stanley
Cup finals remain in place, players who know what it's like to
endure a heartbreaking defeat. Calgary's seven-game loss to Tampa
Bay in the 2004 Stanley Cup finals is still fresh in the players'
McCarty joined the Flames in the offseason after winning three
Stanley Cup titles with the Detroit Red Wings -- but those
championships didn't come without some growing pains.
"I don't think I really understood what it was about," McCarty
said of his first playoff experience in 1994, when the Red Wings
were upset in the first round by the San Jose Sharks.
McCarty learned a lot more after Detroit's loss in the Stanley
Cup finals the next year, followed by a loss to Colorado in the
1996 Western Conference championship.
"Those three years [were] a learning experience about the
difference between regular season and playoffs and what it takes to
get over that hump," McCarty said.
Difficult losing, at least at the NHL level, is not something
many Anaheim players can draw upon. The Mighty Ducks dressed six
rookies in Saturday's 3-2 loss, and 10 players are seeing their
first playoff action.
But Anaheim forward Todd Marchant doesn't believe teams need to
lose to learn how to win.
"Whether you played junior, college, in Europe, guys have been
in these situations before," Marchant said Saturday. "Just
because it wasn't at the NHL level doesn't mean you can't draw on
your experiences of the past.
"Yes, it is at a higher level, but the situations are the
The Flames face a familiar situation, having owned a 3-2 lead in
all four series during their 2004 Stanley Cup run. They lost in
triple overtime to Vancouver in the first round, eliminated Detroit
in the second and San Jose in the third before falling in double
overtime to the Lightning in the finals.
Flames defenseman Andrew Ference said he and his teammates have
learned not to get ahead of themselves, especially while on the
verge of a series victory.
"It's knowing how to buckle down when a team's up against the
wall," Ference said. "When [a team is] facing elimination, it's
always going to be the toughest game you face."
Ference says the key for the Flames is to concentrate on their
own game -- and not the Ducks' lack of playoff experience.
"We don't give too much thought about their young guys or their
inexperience," Ference said. "We control what's in this room and
we feel that if we're on it and doing things right, whether they're
the most experienced team in the world or not, it should be our
play that dictates the outcome."