Yelle boosts Flames

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 1:30 PM ET


 The Calgary Flames desperately needed Stephane Yelle's playoff experience back in the lineup and last night they finally got it.

 The veteran centre returned after sitting seven games -- including the first three games of their quarter-final series against the Canucks -- with a nagging hip/groin injury.

 The former Colorado Avalanche player, whose resume boasts

 111 Stanley Cup playoff contests, was added to provide a boost to the Flames' injury-riddled lineup.

 He's among the top faceoff men in the NHL, is a consistent shot-blocker and offers reliable penalty killing.

 Yelle started the game centring a line with wingers Krzysztof Oliwa and Chuck Kobasew.

 "It obviously impacts you big-time," said coach Darryl Sutter before last night's game, adding he's been pleased with the play of young centres Matthew Lombardi, Chuck Kobasew and Marcus Nilson. "But at the same time, the young guys we've put in there have played really well. I think the kids played well for us."

 Yelle was injured March 25 in San Jose and hadn't played until last night.

 "A couple of weeks ago, I couldn't walk. Now I'm back on the ice doing a lot of the drills the others guys are doing so it's a good sign for me," Yelle said.

 Left winger Shean Donovan said Yelle's return provides an immediate impact.

 "Obviously, a guy like that would be a big boost. Bringing two Stanley Cups and a hundred or so playoff games into our lineup helps a lot," said Donovan, who played five playoff games with Yelle in Colorado in 1999. "He's the kind of guy who scores some big goals -- he's clutch in playoff games -- he's done it a lot for Colorado."


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