CALGARY, Alberta -- Calgary Flames forward Chris Clark was happy to get back on his skates yesterday.
The Flames clinched the Western Conference title Wednesday night when they eliminated the San Jose Sharks, but that set up a five-day break before the start of the Stanley Cup finals.
"I was looking for ice [Friday], I'm not a big fan of taking days off like that," Clark said after the Flames held their first on-ice workout since the series clincher.
"It felt terrible -- you take a day off and it's like you've never skated before," said Clark as Calgary prepared for its first appearance in the finals since winning the Stanley Cup 15 years ago.
Eager to continue their unlikely march through the playoffs, the Flames were waiting for the winner of Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals between the Philadelphia Flyers and Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning hung on to edge the Flyers, 2-1, last night and reach the finals for the first time. Game 1 of the best-of-seven finals is Tuesday night at Tampa.
The Flames will skate early today before flying to Florida to start their fourth straight series on the road. There was a sense of playfulness around the Flames yesterday, with a lot of joking on the ice and off.
"It was good to get some of the rust off -- if you looked at practice closely, there was a lot of it out there," defenseman Andrew Ference said. "It's trying to get that intensity back up and peaked by the time we start the series. Everybody's antsy. There's that sense of `We're here, let's get at 'er.' "
Calgary is the first Stanley Cup finalist from Canada since the Vancouver Canucks lost in Game 7 to the New York Rangers in 1994.