SUN Hockey Pool

Rested Roman thrown into fire

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:52 AM ET

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- It's never easy returning to NHL action after a long layoff.

Imagine how hard it would be to play three games in four nights after the absence.

Calgary Flames defenceman Roman Hamrlik doesn't have to -- he experienced it firsthand last week with games in Edmonton, Nashville and Minnesota after missing 13 games with a broken hand.

"I felt it a little bit. I can tell you that. I have to be honest," Hamrlik said yesterday after participating in an optional skate at the Xcel Energy Centre. "Hopefully, from now and on, it's going to be better."

Hamrlik played the first 30 games of the season before a serious knee sprain knocked him out of the lineup for a dozen. He came back for a game against the Rangers in New York but re-injured the knee and missed another half-dozen contests before trying again.

This time, he lasted nearly two full games in Chicago but had surgery on his left hand after blocking a shot while still gripping his stick.

Hamrlik began his latest comeback in Edmonton, playing nearly 23 minutes of fast-paced, playoff-style hockey.

Adding to his misfortune, Hamrlik slipped on a broken stick in overtime as Shawn Horcoff scored the winning goal in Edmonton during his debut. Then came the 9-4 loss to Nashville.

"Those first two games when I got back, they were tough for everybody," said Hamrlik, who assisted on Daymond Langkow's goal Sunday here in Minnesota.

"I felt much better (Sunday) than those first two games."

The sporadic appearances, Hamrlik said recently, made him feel as if he's been in training camp for months.

Now, he's excited to be healthy -- hopefully all the way through the playoffs this time.

"It's been frustrating for me. I've been working out a lot and just doing the same things over and over. Exercise, biking, running the stairs ... rehab. Now, I'm glad I'm back and having fun with the guys," said Hamrlik.


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