Gauthier to watch from afar

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 1:38 PM ET


 Denis Gauthier's butt was at home on the couch Monday night, his tender leg propped up, just another of a million or so Hockey Night in Canada viewers.

 But his heart, no doubt, was at GM Place in Vancouver.

 The Flames defenceman, injured in Game 6 of the Canucks series, was relegated to the role of cheerleader for the Flames' thrilling Game 7 victory beamed back to Calgary.

 "It was tough not being there with the guys travelling and not being part of the excitement. But someway, somehow, I was there and I was cheering them on," the rugged blueliner grinned yesterday after a treatment session at the Saddledome.

 "I was home with some friends and some family and watched it. It was just as good, just as exciting to get the win as if I was there."

 Just as good but not nearly as easily digested as if he was on the ice, throwing his weight around, helping determine the outcome.

 "I was very relaxed the first two periods. Then the third period came around and we had to protect that lead and the more time that went, the more excited or nervous I got," said Gauthier, who was still mobile enough to deliver some high fives when Flames winger Martin Gelinas potted the OT winner.

 "It was pretty tough to handle, especially when (Vancouver) scored that goal at the end. It hurt just as much as if I was there and I felt for the guys and I was thrilled and happy they made it.

 "(There were) a lot of momentum swings and a lot of emotional swings, for them as well as for me at home watching, being helpless and not being able to do anything about it. But you've gotta believe and the guys did. It was awesome."

 His teammates were quick to phone after the game to share the win that earns them a berth in the Western Conference semifinal against Detroit, although Gauthier isn't expected back on the ice. Flames staff wouldn't permit questions about Gauthier's wound, thought to be a knee injury.

 "It was kind of bittersweet," said Gauthier, 27, now experiencing his first NHL playoffs from a distance. "It was cool. I was happy for them. I got on the phone with a couple of the guys after on the bus when they were on their way to the airport and we talked about it. I was happy they gave me a call, it was very nice of them to do that."

 Gauthier's inability to join the troops in Vancouver or dress for upcoming games in Detroit starting tomorrow night is making for an emotional transition while he rehabs back to health.

 "Not doing much, just resting and trying to get better," he said.

 "It's been an emotional roller-coaster, just not being able to help. I still feel part of it, the guys are still making me feel part of it and that's the good thing about this team. We're a very tight group and I feel just as emotionally drained and ready when the game comes as any of these guys ... It's been tough but you have to move on and look ahead."

 In his place, Steve Montador got his first taste of Stanley Cup playoff action, logging 10 minutes of ice time in Game 7 while earning a plus-1 alongside defensive partner Mike Commodore.

 "Just getting thrown into the mix like that, I just wanted to make the best of the opportunity," Montador said.

 "I didn't play a ton of minutes but I felt comfortable after my first shift out there, just talking to the teammates. The guys were pretty cool about me with what to expect and what not.

 "You've got to play games to get experience and what better game than a Game 7?"


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