Selanne defies age

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:48 PM ET

Teemu Selanne has put up impressive numbers in his career, so this one shouldnt be such a shock.

Everyone remembers the 76 goals by the Finnish Flash as a rookie back in 1992-93.

Twice more he hit the 50-goal mark, and now he ranks 14th all-time with 634 tallies.

However, most of those were scored years ago.

So what is most impressive now about his 28-goal, 75-point season is that Selanne is now 40.

He heads into Calgary fresh off his best outing in three years a five-point performance Monday against the Colorado Avalanche in which his hat-trick goal stood up as the game-winner.

Clearly drinking from the fountain of youth, Selanne is the first player in NHL history with a five-point night after turning 40.

Hes such a gifted skater and a great athlete, so its not surprising, said Flames winger Alex Tanguay, a former teammate of Selannes in Colorado.

But to do it as this age and still playing with consistency is amazing. It shows what type of athlete he is.

I dont know how hes doing it. Its pretty amazing at that age he still has the speed and skills to do that.

The Flames are facing Selanne for what they hope is the final time this season when the Anaheim Ducks flock to the Saddledome (7:30 p.m., TSN).

In the two previous meetings between the clubs, Selanne has scored the tying goal with about two minutes left each time.

Each time, the Flames lost in overtime.

The Flames arent the only ones wishing Selanne would have opted for retirement instead of returning for an 18th NHL season.

After sparking the comeback against the Flames, he scored with seven seconds left to send a meeting with the Dallas Stars to OT, and the Ducks won in overtime.

It seems the thrill of the playoff chase has brought out the best in Selanne.

The first thing is to have talent, said Flames blueliner Steve Staios. He has a high skill level.

I dont know him personally, but he seems to have a real love for the game.

Age is different nowadays in the league. You cant put a big stock in the number beside a guys name. If you look after yourself and you have the passion to play, you can go a long time.

What makes Selanne and the Ducks offence so dangerous is that their 40-year-old star plays on their second unit.

The dynamic trio of Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan draw the lions share of top defensive pairings.

They have five guys on their team with high-end skill, so we have to be careful, said Staios.

You have to (stop Selanne) as a team. The key is to play well with five-man units. If we dont give him a lot of time and space, then they cant give him the puck.

With Selanne as the triggerman, the Ducks have the fifth-best powerplay in the NHL, so giving the Finnish Flash extra space is dangerous.

Selanne is third in the NHL with 15 powerplay goals, which is another impressive number on his ledger.

Monday was also his 22nd career hat-trick, and hes putting together his best season since 2006-07, despite missing nine games with a groin injury.

Ive been feeling great all year, Selanne told reporters after Mondays win. It has been fun, and that is the only reason why I am still around.

ian.busby@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/ianbusby57


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