How Swede is Nilson?

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 1:06 PM ET


 For years, Marcus Nilson had Shean Donovan fooled.

 When Nilson toiled for Florida, Donovan assumed his birth certificate would show he hailed from a closer locale. That Nilson is Swedish never crossed his mind.

 "Honestly, I though he was a guy with a Swedish name but was North American," Donovan said. "It wasn't until he came here I found out he was a Swede. Even for the first couple of days I didn't know because he doesn't have much of an accent and looks just like a farm boy from Saskatchewan."

 Nilson's favourite ball cap -- green with the John Deere logo -- only perpetuated it.

 Giving Donovan that perception is the same reason Flames GM/head coach Darryl Sutter acquired Nilson just before the trade deadline.

 Despite what the stereotype says about Swedes, Nilson is proof you don't have to hail from this side of the Atlantic to play with grit.

 Or care about the Stanley Cup.

 "That's what it's all about. That's why you play the game," Nilson said. "I've been waiting for this chance for a while and it's exciting to be here."

 It was well documented how many regular season games Denis Gauthier and Robyn Regehr played before reaching the post-season. Nilson played 341 contests before finally partaking in the playoff party.

 "It's a lot better than I thought it would be but we've only come so far," he said. "We've been playing well but there's still a ways to go."

 Those aren't just words from Nilson, that's his mindset.

 Nilson willingly plays an unheralded game, always doing the little things, much in the same style as Stephane Yelle.

 "I don't know how to explain it but he's just solid," Donovan said.

 "During the play, he's not skating fast but he makes the right play and does it with the right speed. He's a really smart player.

 "Any coach would love him for just the stuff he does.

 "He and Yelle are the guys you want on your team. They may not pack the stands with their individual play but in the end you win and that packs the stands."

 Tuesday, he helped pull the crowd to its feet.

 Donovan was a hero for his game-winner but he was set up brilliantly by Nilson, whose chip pass sent the speedy winger in alone for the successful deke.

 Nilson, who has a goal and four assists this playoff season, doesn't mind being a cog in the wheel.

 "You play for your teammates, that's the main thing. You do a good job, all your teammates are gonna know about it, and that's the way I play the game," he said. "When you're not a 40-goal scorer, you've got to do other stuff out there. Anybody you play with knows what you bring to the table and that's all that matters to me."


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