Benching hits home

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 2:26 PM ET


 The long-awaited first home playoff game finally came for Denis Gauthier.

 And like the crowd on hand, he had a great view of the third-period action.

 With an even better seat.

 Being pinned to pine is hardly the way Gauthier envisioned the night he'd spent years dreaming of, yet there he was for the bulk of the final period of Sunday's 2-1 loss to Vancouver.

 "At the end of the night, the minutes played are based on performance," was all GM/head coach Darryl Sutter said after the game.

 The stat sheet told that tale completely. In the final frame, Gauthier had two shifts for a grand total of one minute 22 seconds of playing time.

 Gauthier, usually one of the most accessible players in the league who seemingly always wears his heart on his sleeve, politely refused to address the media yesterday but his usual defence partner stepped forward.

 "He's got a lot of pride, Denis Gauthier, and he plays his heart out," said Rhett Warrener. "He doesn't want to be criticized, he's been here a long time and given a lot to this team.

 "I feel for him because he's playing hard and it didn't go his way. He kinda got the finger pointed at him.

 "He does a lot for this team and it's too important for him to lose any confidence in this team."

 A Gauthier giveaway started the play that led to Matt Cooke's game-winning goal in the final period. After that, he was shown the bench, even though Toni Lydman left due to an unspecified injury, believed to be a concussion.

 "We talked but he's been through this before," Warrener said. "I'm sure Denis will have a great game (tonight), we're not worried about him.

 "The big thing with him is loosening him up so he can relax and just go play."


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