To Pittsburgh Penguins
coach Dan Bylsma
, Anaheim Ducks
star Teemu Selanne
isn't aging as he approaches his 42nd birthday. Rather, his play suggests he is ageless.
No matter the era, no matter the opponent, no matter the arena.
During an NHL career that began 20 years ago, Selanne has scored in a remarkable 52 arenas -- or nearly every rink in which the League has played during that time. He's missed out only on the Prudential Center in Newark, the MTS Centre in Winnipeg and Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh.
Selanne can't cross Winnipeg off his list during this regular season; he had a pair of assists but did not score a goal when his Ducks played their only game of the season there Dec. 17, losing 5-3.
But he has a chance this week to score in both Consol and the Prudential Center as the Ducks continue an eight-game road trip that takes them to Pittsburgh on Wednesday and New Jersey on Friday.
Anaheim did not play in Pittsburgh last season, when Consol replaced the Civic Arena as the Penguins' home rink.
Selanne's scoring touch has not disappeared even though he is only five months away from his 42nd birthday; he ranks 19th in the League in scoring with 18 goals and 33 assists for 51 points in 56 games. He also is a plus-5.
Penguins coach Dan Bylsma
, himself a former Anaheim player, is the same age (41) as Selanne, yet he hasn't played in the NHL since the 2003-04 season.
"I've watched, played against, played with and then went back to watching Teemu," Bylsma said Wednesday. "I think when things changed in the game, it allowed him not to have to adjust. Since the (2004-05) lockout, when the rules changed and the speed of the game (increased), it looks like he's gotten faster at the ripe old age of 38, 39, 40, 41. He was able to utilize some of the things that maybe I saw him do when he was a Duck and I was playing with the Kings."
To Bylsma, Selanne is one of those rare players whose skills seem to improve the longer they play.
"He's got a rare gift of speed and shooting and scoring ability," Bylsma said. "He's also a guy who if you didn't think he's a physical player, you're wrong. He doesn't run you over, but he can play physically down low, he can reverse-shoulder you and knock you off your feet. He can drive the net. He's got a lot of power in his game. And that is not real evident when you see the guy flying up the ice."
Bylsma also suggested that Selanne may have benefitted from the transition from the traditional wooden stick to the now-popular composite stick.
"I know we used to give him a lot of grief for having a muffin of a shot," Bylsma said. "We used to scream 'Muffin!' He had a wood stick then and his shot wasn't the greatest, but he's got a goal scorer's touch. His shot's pretty lethal now. The stick maybe helped him out a little bit there, but he's always that goal-scoring touch."
Selanne has had plenty of success against the Penguins, getting 12 goals and 21 assists for 33 points in 20 career games. He also is a plus-11.
Selanne also has a couple of other milestones awaiting him; he needs one goal to match Brendan Shanahan
for 12th place in career goals (656) and is two from tying Luc Robitaille
for fourth place in career power-play goals (247).
Selanne has 15 points, including 7 goals, as Anaheim has gone 13-2-3 in its last 18 games. The Ducks rallied to win 2-1 at Minnesota on Tuesday, scoring twice twice in the third period.
, it's a marvel to watch him skate up the ice still," Bylsma said. "He's leading them in points. He's dangerous, and the team is playing very well right now."