Yelle takes one for team

SCOTT FISHER -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 12:10 PM ET

 It was quite possibly the quickest trade in NHL history.

 Stephane Yelle got a got a chance to see things from Vancouver's perspective for a few seconds in Game 5 after Canucks defenceman Ed Jovanovski, with an assist from agitator Jarkko Ruutu, dumped the Flames forward into the enemy bench.

  "I never thought I'd end up on their bench," Yelle smiled. "I've seen it happen before and you always laugh when it's someone else.

 "Actually, when I saw the highlights, it was pretty funny."

 Yelle has a lot to smile about these days.

 Forced to miss the first three games of the series with a hip injury, the 29-year-old is happy to be back in the lineup.

 "It was hard but I knew I couldn't play," he said of his time in the pressbox. "When you accept that you can't be on the ice, it's a little less difficult."

 Yelle has struggled to stay healthy the entire season.

 He was the only Flames player to suit up for all 82 regular-season tilts in 2002-03, his first year in Calgary, but it's been one injury after another during this campaign.

 He missed stretches with a concussion and knee injury prior to hurting his hip and was held to four goals and 17 points in 53 games.

 But Yelle's impact goes far beyond his point totals, said winger Chris Clark.

 "We know what type of player he is," Clark said. "He blocks shots, he's great killing penalties and on faceoffs. He does all the little things and it shows, especially at playoff time."

 Yelle, who won a pair of Stanley Cups with the Colorado Avalanche, is clearly Darryl Sutter's type of player.

 His ability to block shots, absorb punishment in front of the opposition's net or sacrifice his body makes Yelle the kind of player a coach can trust in any situation.

 "He's an experienced player, he's won Stanley Cups," Sutter said. "He takes a lot of faceoffs and kills penalties.

 "Our team has gotten better since he's been in the lineup.

 "(Being able to fight through the injury) exemplifies what he is and what he's about."

 Yelle said he isn't quite back to full strength yet. But he couldn't bear to sit in the pressbox any longer.

 "At this time of the year, I don't think anybody feels 100 percent but I feel all right," said the centreman, who has won 18 of 33 faceoffs (54.5%) in his two games.

 The Flames' playoff success hasn't come as a surprise to Yelle, who says the team has been playing with post-season urgency for most of the season.

 "Over the 82 games we played during the season, the coaching staff prepared us to battle hard every night and to approach every game like it was a playoff game," Yelle said.

 "Now that we're in the playoffs, I don't think the preparation is any different."

 But there's no denying there's a different feeling in and around the rink.

 This playoff-starved city is coming apart at the seams and that excitement has spilled over into the dressing room.

 "When you go on a run and start winning games, you get that feeling. It has a lot to do with confidence and it's around the dressing room.

 "Every player can feel it."


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