Sarich gets back into game-shape

Calgary Flames defenceman Cory Sarich. (AL CHAREST/QMI Agency)

Calgary Flames defenceman Cory Sarich. (AL CHAREST/QMI Agency)

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:51 PM ET

The open-ice body check wasn't a thing of beauty.

"It wasn't the cleanest of hits. We got a little tangled up," Calgary Flames defenceman Cory Sarich said of his collision with Phoenix Coyotes forward Patrick O'Sullivan in Thursday's pre-season game.

"But it was going to happen going forward. I had to start bumping and banging.

"You can't skip steps, but there are things you can speed up and go through. I've been doing everything to get to this point, and now that I feel good, I'll give it a whirl."

Sarich skated in the team's final pre-season game after spending a lengthy time rehabilitating from his battle with osteitis pubis, a noninfectious inflammation in the pelvis.

Other than some sore muscles, the usual fare when somebody plays their first game after a lengthy layoff from competition, Sarich said he felt great and had no recurrence.

"I wasn't too worried. It's been a great environment, the coaches really facilitated my recovery just by letting me participate in all those practices. Doing all the practices and one-on-ones, even if they were non-contact, helped me be up to speed, and that was huge," said Sarich, who saw 18 minutes and 31 seconds of ice time in the clash. "I've dealt with a few injuries in previous years where you're isolated, dealt with it on your own, and then have to jump back into it."

Sarich played through the ailment most of last season, but after requiring months of cortisone shots and painkillers to do it, he opted for aggressive treatment.

That check on O'Sullivan at the team's blueline was a major test.

"We banged hips, and our knees locked up a little bit. That felt fine," he said. "But then I toe-picked on the way to the bench and that felt worse than the actual contact."

THUMBS UP FOR NEW GLASS

The new plexiglass system at the Saddledome is earning rave reviews from the Flames.

"When you're getting hit and giving hits, it's a lot safer," said defenceman Mark Giordano. "It's a lot better. It's a little bit different for shooting in the puck and with bounces, but I think it's necessary for all rinks.

"That old glass was like going into a rock."

Because seamless glass didn't have stanchions, it had less give, making contact more painful, especially when players hit their heads and shoulders into it.

The new system allows more sway when collisions occur, lessening the blow.

Now, the Flames players must adapt to the difference with how pucks don't bounce off the glass as far. Plus, the potential for wacky bounces on shoot-ins increases.

"You just have to get used to the way it bounces," Giordano said. "You have to be aware when you shoot it out of the zone."

The partitions between the benches have also been cut further back from the ice surface in reaction to the infamous hit Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins put on Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty last season.

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter: @SUNRandySportak


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