Friend to foe for Gelinas

TODD SAELHOF -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 4:04 PM ET

 In the previous playoff series to pit the Calgary Flames against the Vancouver Canucks, Martin Gelinas and Trevor Linden suited up for the same side as linemates.

 The West Coast side.

  But during the first two games of this spring's series, there has been no time for reminiscing about the 1994 series won in seven games by Gelinas, Linden and the underdog Canucks.

 No time for winks and warm fuzzies.

 If there has been communication, it has come with whacks and verbal volleys -- even from two of the game's most gentlemanly players.

 "Once you're on the ice, it's business," said Gelinas, now with the Flames.

 "Obviously, Trevor is a good friend and so on but (it's) a battle out there. I know Trevor's not going to give any wink out there and I'm not going to give any wink. It's going to be a tight battle."

 Battles don't come much tighter than the 1994 first-round battle, when the favoured Flames were upset by the Canucks.

 The series began with a 5-0 Canucks victory before the Flames replied with three consecutive wins: 7-5, 4-2 and 3-2.

 Then it became a war of attrition.

 The Canucks came back with three consecutive overtime triumphs, kicking it off with a 2-1 win in one extra session and concluding the series with two triple-OT decisions of 3-2 and 4-3 scores.

 And there was Gelinas, then 24, front and centre.

 "At the time, we were down 3-1 (in games) and we had a good chat," said Gelinas.

 "I remember that chat because they were asking me about when I was down 3-1 with the Edmonton Oilers and we came back and won that Cup (in 1990).

 "They were asking me, 'What's it going to take to come back?'

 "I said, 'You've got to keep plugging away in the playoffs. You don't know what the outcome's going to be from one shift to another, one period to another and one game to another but there's one thing you can control and that's to work hard and make sure you prepare yourself. And hopefully the outcome will be what you want.'

 "This is how we approached it and we came back and won that series against Calgary and created some momentum and got on our way.

 "It was an exciting time."

 No doubt excitement will mount in this series, too.

 After all, the Flames and Canucks are two of the league's more aggressive teams, with forechecking and hard-nosed hockey central to their game.

 Perhaps, though, Gelinas' current club isn't blessed with the same degree of talent as his winner of 10 years back.

 "It's hard to compare teams from one year to another," said Gelinas, who enjoyed career seasons with the Canucks, including his best playoff statistically in '94 with five goals and nine points in 24 games.

 "There's different skills -- obviously, we had (Pavel) Bure and Trevor and we had an experienced team. Here, we have a younger team and everybody's excitable playing the game.

 "We've got a hard-working team."

 And they've got Gelinas, who may just turn out to be the charm for the underdog in any Flames-Canucks series.

 He was just that back in '94.

 "In the playoffs, anything can happen," Gelinas added. "From one game to another, you don't know what the score will be, so from one shift to another, you have to want to make sure you're the difference."


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