Nilson pain the price

Minnesota Wild goaltender Manny Fernandez adds another bruise to Calgary Flames forward Marcus...

Minnesota Wild goaltender Manny Fernandez adds another bruise to Calgary Flames forward Marcus Nilson's collection during a game last month at the Saddledome. Nilson is one of several Flames who prides himself by playing through painful injuries. (Calgary Sun file)

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:41 AM ET

NEW YORK -- The way Jason Wiemer sees it, Marcus Nilson is at his best when in pain.

Like some pre-game ritual, Wiemer figures his Calgary Flames teammate isn't really ready to play unless he's covered in bruises, aching in the bones or walking with a limp.

Then again, thanks to his fearless style of game, there haven't been many times Nilson isn't coping with some ailment that needs an ice pack, or more, to treat it.

"There's been lots of times when you look at him and say, 'I can't believe this guy's playing,' " said Wiemer, who's skated alongside Nilson with both Florida and Calgary.

"He plays through it and manages to play well.

"I think he's one of those guys, kinda like Darren McCarty, who thrives and enjoys being hurt."

Which is why Nilson wasn't a happy camper during the Flames win over the Toronto Maple Leafs Friday.

The victory was welcomed but that night was the first time as an NHLer Nilson was forced to miss a game due to injury.

The disappointment wasn't over the fact his consecutive games streak was snapped at 219 -- it would have been at 365 dating back to October 2000 had it not been for a one-game suspension in March of 2002.

It's just Nilson, who has five goals and seven assists in 41 games this season, expects to play every game, regardless of the aches and pains.

"It sucked. It was painful," he said of being sat out due to a head injury suffered thanks to a hellacious hit in the Jan. 2 win over Chicago. "Now I have missed a game, I guess."

The hiatus didn't last long.

Like clockwork, Nilson was back in action Saturday night in Vancouver, fearlessly blocking shots and taking the hits in yet another intense battle against the Canucks, who beat Calgary 4-3 in OT.

Just as he expects tomorrow night when the Flames face the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

"It's usually only bumps and bruises, nothing broken or sprained or something like that," he said. "You can always play through it."

Like he did last month during a road trip, despite having a plate-sized bruise on one leg which left him barely able to walk.

"Oh, that wasn't too bad," he recalled. "Really, I've been lucky. I haven't had any major injuries. I've been able to play with them.

"I think everybody does it. If you have an injury that's not that bad, you want to play.

"It's more painful not playing."

Want more proof about his dedication?

There's the time while with Florida when Nilson was splattered into the boards by Roman Hamrlik, now a Flames teammate.

Nilson had the silk work done for a cut above his eye and didn't play the rest of the game but refused to leave the bench.

Still, Nilson doesn't like to come across as being macho.

He's had plenty of teammates past and present -- such as Olli Jokinen, McCarty, Tony Amonte and Stephane Yelle -- who are similar.

Talk about a Swede Don Cherry would appreciate.

"I think most guys play through what they can play through. That's the way the game is, you have to," Nilson said.

"Obviously, 20 years ago maybe Canadians were tougher than Swedes with the fighting and stuff but I don't know if it's any different. I know with our group, everybody wants to play all the time. If you're hurt and can't play, you can't play, but we all want to play."

ICE CHIPS: Other than a five-hour flight from Vancouver to New York yesterday, it was pretty much a day off for the Flames. They will practice today in preparation for the Rangers ... So far this season, facing Eastern Conference foes has been a good experience for Calgary. The Flames are 5-0-1 against the East ... Saturday's overtime loss was the third time this season the Flames have surrendered four powerplay goals in a game.


Videos

Photos

Canoe Top Headlines