SUN Hockey Pool

McCarty faces former friends

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:09 AM ET

Darren McCarty has always prided himself on being a playoff performer.

His greatest achievements on the ice have come when everything was on the line while winning three Stanley Cups as a member of the Detroit Red Wings.

He scored his first playoff hat-trick against Patrick Roy in 2002, netted the 1997 Cup clincher with one of the league's best goals of the season during a sweep of the Philadelphia Flyers and was never afraid of standing up for a teammate.

Now there's a chance McCarty will face many of his friends from the other side of the red line as his Calgary Flames face the Red Wings in the first round.

"I couldn't have wrote it any better," McCarty said.

Surgery for a sports hernia that forced the 35-year-old to the sidelines on Boxing Day kept him off the ice for a couple of months and his future with the team was cloudy.

He made his return Sunday for the Flames' regular-season finale, a 6-3 loss to the Avalanche in Denver.

There's no guarantee McCarty will crack the lineup in the first round but if he does, there will be no trepidation on his part when it comes to aiming his trademark aggressiveness at his old pals.

"I showed it last year, first game when we played Detroit -- ran Chelly (Chris Chelios) through the end boards. He's a good friend of mine," said McCarty.

"That's the way we do it. If you're not dishing it out, Drapes (Kris Draper)and (Kirk) Maltby, they're not going to let up either. That's the competitiveness. I hope to have an opportunity to get in there and play aggressive and help this team."

Since joining the Flames after the lockout as an unrestricted free agent, McCarty has grown accustomed to playing against the team he spent 11 seasons with, winning Cups in 1997, 1998 and 2002.

"I got used to it as much as I could. I'm excited to be playing those guys (in the playoffs)," said McCarty.

"The team's changed a lot since I was there but still I've got a lot of good buddies that we've accomplished a lot of great things there with.

"It's always sweeter when you beat your close friends."

With just one game to his credit in more than three months, McCarty isn't sure how head coach Jim Playfair will utilize him, or if he will dress at all.

Speaking yesterday of what McCarty adds to the team, Playfair said he was a valuable piece of the puzzle. He didn't say whether or not that meant on the ice.

"He's won Stanley Cups and that's what we're trying to accomplish right now," said Playfair. "People that have had that exprience and gone through it become very valuable players, especially now."

Should he get to suit up, McCarty is ready and eager for the matchup. "All I can do is just be ready," McCarty said. "I hope (to play) but it's out of my hands."

McCarty took 10 shifts during the loss to the Avs, totalling 5:50 of ice time and a minus-1 rating.

The only official stat he recorded was a blocked shot but he did finish a few checks as he regained his game legs.


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