Gio's game scores extra ink

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:34 AM ET

DALLAS -- Mark Giordano, arguably the Calgary Flames' best-kept secret, is starting to get noticed.

The defenceman, who is often overlooked on a team which also has blueliners Dion Phaneuf, Robyn Regehr and Jay Bouwmeester, was named to The Hockey News' all-underrated team.

"I'd never heard of that. That's pretty cool," Giordano said prior to Wednesday's game against the Dallas Stars.

"Keep the stories down so it stays that way."

The way Giordano, 26, has taken his game to a new level this season, it'll be hard to keep his value under wraps.

Heading into the clash with Dallas, he had a career-best seven goals and 20 points, just as many points as Phaneuf and more than Bouwmeester and Regehr -- who were all in the mix for spots on Canada's Olympic hockey team.

Also named to the team created for the Feb. 1 edition are Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard, Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Ian White and a forward trio of Brooks Laich (Washington Capitals), Wayne Simmonds (Los Angeles Kings) and Steve Downie (Tampa Bay Lightning).

Flames winger Rene Bourque was named to the underrated team's second line.

Giordano, who spent the 2007-08 season in Russia before returning to the Flames, was happy to receive attention but figured he would be in for some serious ribbing from teammates if he talked about it.

"Let's keep it under wraps from them," he said.

RIBEIRO RECOVERING

Dallas Stars centre Mike Ribeiro is back talking, back practising and may soon be back playing.

Ribeiro has been out of action since Jan. 6, when he was inadvertently speared in the throat by New York Rangers forward Christopher Higgins -- which required an emergency tracheotomy.

For the first time since that incident, Ribeiro practised with his team Wednesday and said he hopes to be back playing before the Olympic break, likely on the club's road trip, which goes through Calgary Feb. 11.

Ribeiro skated with a neck guard and still has a bandage covering the incision needed for the surgery. His fitness level is one concern.

The other is overcoming fear of getting hit in the throat again.

"It's a weird injury, doesn't happen often, so the odds will be pretty low," he said.

"That will come with practice and being physical in practice."

RANDY.SPORTAK@SUNMEDIA.CA

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