Mr. Clutch

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun>

, Last Updated: 10:57 AM ET

 DETROIT -- The week began with a Game 7 overtime winner.

 He followed that with a clutch play which led to the OT goal in the series opener against Detroit Thursday night.

  "It's an exciting time," Martin Gelinas said with a smile yesterday.

 It's a far cry from the way the post-season began for the Flames forward.

 As Calgary's most experienced playoff performer, Gelinas was expected to provide a veteran presence in this second season.

 He was expected to lead the team full of youngsters by example.

 Instead, he found himself struggling and was even benched for much of Game 3 in the opening-round series with Vancouver.

 "How do I feel about the start I had? Not very good," Gelinas said.

 "I was really excited about these playoffs and trained hard for this. This is what I live for but I wasn't playing the way I was capable of playing."

 There's been a huge turnaround and not just because of the offensive impact he's had in the last couple of games.

 "The coach said I wasn't finishing checks and I looked at the games and he was right. I started to finish checks better and everything else took care of itself," Gelinas explained. "Offence often starts by finishing a check for a turnover or taking a check to make a play. It's little details that wins you games in the playoffs.

 "I think everybody's been doing that."

 Gelinas will suit up for his 130th playoff contest this afternoon but the 33-year-old left winger has proven Father Time hasn't completely caught up with him -- though he's not completely out of the coach's doghouse.

 "It's about his energy level and what he gives you on the ice," said GM/head coach Darryl Sutter. "He still has great wheels and is a good competitor. We need more of that."

 Gelinas has been coming through in the clutch, something he hopes will rub off on his younger teammates.

 After all, he went through that process en route to winning a Stanley Cup crown in 1990.

 "A guy like Glenn Anderson was a good example of that," he said.

 "He was a guy who every playoff would come to the battle, skate hard and get some key goals. Obviously, Mark Messier was one and Jari Kurri, when we won the Cup, was just incredible.

 "There's people who lead in the room by talking but I try to lead by example -- going out there and putting it on the line every shift and do my best.

 "Hopefully, it rubs off on everybody."

 Of course, Gelinas has also found something of a fountain of youth of late, which you'd expect from being surrounded by a plethora of twentysomething teammates ecstatic about their first playoff run.

 "We're a young team and we're excited and sometimes you've got to take advantage of that," Gelinas explained. "We've got to go out there and prove ourselves every shift.

 "We're not sure how good we can be.

 "We've got to push it to the limit and see where it leads us."


Videos

Photos