SUN Hockey Pool

Patience, focus pay off for MacIntyre

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:55 AM ET

Steve MacIntyre has spent a lot of this season watching and wishing - watching the Oilers fight for a playoff spot and wishing he was out there helping them - but not complaining.

He returned to the lineup last night against Calgary, drawing in for just the second time in 11 games, which has made for some long and lonely game nights. But as MacIntyre is quick to point out, there are tougher ways to earn a living than working out, practising with your buddies and sitting in a press box.

"It's a little frustrating, but at the same time you have to be a professional and know your role in the game," said MacIntyre, who's always going to be in there against heated rivals like Calgary or Minnesota, or when head coach Craig MacTavish thinks it might get a little nasty.

COULD BE WORSE

"There's a lot worse things a guy can be doing, that's for sure, than playing in the NHL. That's the kind of attitude to have. You have to be ready to go and you have to be sharp and have good practices and be focused mentally in practices. That's one thing I've gotten better at."

He's been working his butt of between appearances in an effort to make those appearances more frequent.

"They've really helped me in different areas that I haven't explored before," he said.

"Whether it's quick feet or strength and conditioning, they're aspects of my game I can improve to get better on the ice."

Just being around the team and soaking up the experience has done wonders for the mental side of his game.

"At times there I was second guessing myself, now I'm relaxing and having fun and realizing the importance of when you do get in the lineup, the important role that you have to play in the game."

HAPPY TO BE BACK

Though the Flames didn't want any part of him last night, he said his return couldn't have come on a better night.

"You grow up watching the Battle of Alberta, so to be a part of it, especially on Hockey Night, it's a big honour," he said.

"Every game we play against Calgary is like going back to the old days. That rivalry has to keep on going. It's a lot of fun when you get out there and get skating around, you look across the ice and you're playing the Flames. As a westerner you don't grow up dreaming about much else when you're playing hockey."


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