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Like a fighter that keeps getting knocked down, when you expect the next blow to put him down for the count, Sami Salo just won't stay down. There's a reason why Sylvester Stallone's Italian Stallion character Rocky Balboa spawned a series of movies. That human spirit, that innate drive is what seemed so compelling about the character. Sure, Sami Salo doesn't compare well with Sylvester Stallone, save for they have similar initials. But his resiliency, his determination to get back to his feet, and to what end? Who's to say that he doesn't (knock on wood) have another tough injury befall him? One could argue that he's endured more pain during his NHL career than an average person does in a lifetime. Sports doctors alike agree that recovering from a torn Achilles tendon can be quite an ordeal for professional athletes. Sami is quick to direct credit for help during said recovery. "I think having the support of family and friends got me through that, and then coming over here, having a chance to go early on a road trip with the guys, even though I wasn't skating... those are the little things that give you a light at the end of the tunnel." Salo's teammates are eager to have him back. "He is one of our favourites, that's for sure," said Burrows. "He's been around a long time, knows what it's all about and he's always been a really nice guy with the young guys - he was with me, when I came in, and things haven't changed." Salo plays tonight against the Calgary Flames, but has already played three games in a conditioning stint with the Manitoba Moose. He scored two goals the first game back since the injury. "I was a little nervous," Salo recalled. I wasn't sure how the leg would feel. It's not easy coming back when you've been out so long, and I think it might have been tougher to come back the first game here than there." Even if the butterflies manifest themselves in Salo's stomach, and in turn his play, fans will have nothing but cheers for the unflappable, resilient Finn. All Canucks, all the time. http://thecanuckway.com With files from The Vancouver Sun, I'm Larenzo Jensen
In the third period of Saturday's match between the Canucks and the Calgary Flames, CBC Commentator Mark Lee described the game as having a "Nasty tone". Rick Rypien vs Brandon Prust - Part I (AP Photo / The Canadian Press, Darryl Dyck) Particularly in the third period did both teams dish out physical punishment. Both coaches, Alain Vigneault and Brent Sutter, regularly dispatched their third and fourth lines, trying to match brawn. In a couple of instances, the result brought most players on the ice together in scrums, face-washes, punches, and take-downs. As pictured, Rick Rypien and Brandon Prust threw the gloves to the ice twice, comprising the 'Main event'. Rypien had a slight edge in the first bout, while the second had to be declared a tie. The camera man captured Prust in the box after the second fight, so exhausted he could barely hold his (slightly disfigured) head up. If you missed it, here is Part I (courtesy of Pouya of CanucksHD, just click on it): Rypien vs Prust: Part I Tanner Glass was one of the most physical players on the ice in the playoff atmosphere game Featured (Canucks.com) Fan-Zone contributor Jason C touches on it a lot more in his most recent article, but the referreeing by Bill McCreary and Stephon Walkom had as much to do with the rough stuff as the players. Essentially, they 'let the players go', and, as Jason C points out, it seemed more to Calgary's advantage, particularly in the case of Dion Phaneuf. Phaneuf easily could have made 3 more trips to the penalty box for his shananigans after the whistle, giving Daniel Sedin and Alex Burrows extra punches and cross-checks right in front of McCreary, who turned a blind eye. In my opinion, Alex Edler was one of the best players on the ice, making several key defensive plays Roberto Luongo, the games' 2nd star, made 38 saves and kept Vancouver in it all night. The game was tied 1-1 after the opening period, and 2-2 after the second frame. "We're disappointed with the loss, obviously, but we found a way to get it to overtime. So the game was right there for us." Red hot Alex Burrows was stymied in his quest to become the 1st NHLer to record three straight hat tricks, but had an assist on Daniel Sedin's tally (see link below). "Louie was great, that's for sure," said the 6'1 Pincourt, Quebec native. "I think, for the most part, they outworked us in a lot of areas." More Sedin magic... Courtesy of Canucks HD (just click) Alex Burrows trips up Rene Bourque, with Stephon Walkom viewing proceedings (AP Photo / The Canadian Press, Darryl Dyck) Evan Oberg and Brad Lukowich both stepped into defensive roles for the Canucks, who lost both Sami Salo and Aaron Rome to facial lacerations Thursday in their win over Phoenix. Veteran Lukowich, who has a Stanley Cup ring with the Tampa Bay Lightning, set the tone early with a big hit on Rene Bourque behind the Canucks goal. He didn't look out of place at all, and though it was Oberg's first taste of NHL action, he too jelled nicely with teammates. Coach Alain Vigneault refused to use the injuries to the blueline as a crutch. "Four of our defence had a little bit more minutes than usual. It can be challenging but at the end of the day, whether they get a few minutes or not, that shouldn't stop the rest of the group from playing real hard and we just weren't good enough tonight." Brent Sutter was a little less gracious post match. In an attempt to steer attention away from some of the none-calls his club received from McCreary, he ranted about the Canuck fan that had a laser pointer. "It was brought to the attention of the refs and security, and it's hard to believe that can go on for 60 mintues in a hockey game and it's not located and not found." Sutter went on to reiterate this, in a multitude of different ways, post game. Though HNIC viewers got a glimpse of the green laser pointer that Brent Sutter cried about, Daniel Sedin was the only distraction on this shot The Flames now hold the Northwest division lead by 1 point, thanks in part to call-up Jamie Lundmark from their AHL affiliate, the Abbottsford Heat. He scored the tying marker, and ended the game with his shootout conversion. The 28 year old Edmonton native was drafted 9th overall in 1999, but has failed to bring his junior scoring knack to the NHL. "It was huge," said Lundmark of the win. "From last night coming off a loss, I think everybody stepped up tonight and played well." He partially has goaltending coach Jamie McLennan to thank for the shootout move. He backed up Luongo earlier in his career, and knows Luongo's tendencies. Next up: The Predators are back in town for a swipe at the Canucks on Monday. notes: Current NHL Ironman Jay Boumeester played his 387th consecutive game, while Henrik Sedin, played his 380th. Larenzo Jensen, with files from AP Photo / The Canadian Press, Yahoo Sports and Canucks HD