SUN Hockey Pool

Yelle a rebel blocking shots

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:46 AM ET

ANAHEIM -- Calgary Flames penalty killers have a great leader in Stephane Yelle.

That's one of the reasons the team is no longer at the bottom of the heap in that statistical category.

Defenceman Jordan Leopold, who has been stellar as part of the first unit, is thankful someone is always prepared to make a play, often at his own risk.

"He's done that throughout his career. He's willing to lay his body down and sacrifice to block a shot," said Leopold yesterday after practice in Los Angeles before heading to Anaheim. "Every time he gets a piece of one, it's a big play. He's really good at getting his body in the way and he's one of our best killers because of it."

Yelle spent more time killing penalties than playing at even strength during Sunday's 3-2 win over the Kings and is a big reason his team has allowed one powerplay goal in 15 attempts.

"When everyone's on the same page and working hard, keeping the shifts short, we're pretty successful," said Yelle, who had two blocked shots Sunday.

The former Colorado Avalanche specialist was an offensive player in the junior but changed his game with the Avs because of all the scoring forwards already on the team. The transition went well and Yelle had a bit of a mentor in Denver.

"My first year, I played with Mike Keane in Colorado," said Yelle. "I played with him for a few years and he was really good at (blocking shots). I watched him and learned from him. When it's there I do it and when it's not, I don't."

Yelle's leadership seems to be rubbing off.

Marcus Nilson blocked three shots playing alongside Yelle. Leopold added a pair of his own, as did his playing partner Rhett Warrener.

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McCARTY CAUTIOUS: Darren McCarty, who took a blow to the head in Dallas, didn't skate yesterday and will have to play it safe until he is cleared by doctors.

"We're at a point right now where it's just precautions as far as league standards when you get your bell rung," said McCarty yesterday. "I would have liked to play Sunday."

Andrew Ference was also held out of yesterday's skate with a sore groin.

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FOUR SCORE: Flames head coach Darryl Sutter wants more out of fourth liners Byron Ritchie, Jason Wiemer and Craig MacDonald while Darren McCarty is out. Mac-Donald was called up Sunday but played spar-ingly in his Flames debut.

"Without McCarty, we need a little bit better defensive play out of that line," Sutter said.


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