Sound defensive play is going to be key in the series with the Blackhawks, and the Flames' blueline received a shot of experience Tuesday. Among the sea of new young faces in practice Tuesday was one new, but already familiar one. Anders Eriksson hit the ice with the team only an hour after clearing re-entry waivers, and he is ready and anxious to contribute to the big club at this crucial point of the season.
"I had a good time being down there... for what it was it was a really good year... I'm happy to be back and hopefully I can come in and help," said Eriksson, who is eager to fortify the teams' defensive corps in any way needed.
"I'm here and if they want me to play I'm ready to play and if not I will be practicing hard."
With the pressure and intensity in the playoffs ratcheted up considerably, Eriksson provides an invaluable intangible, the experience that comes from winning it all. Eriksson, along with Andre Roy and Cory Sarich
, are the only players on the team with their names etched into the Stanley Cup; Eriksson having won in 1998 with Detroit. His wisdom was apparent as he waxed philosophically about competing at this time of year.
"Any playoff series, you shouldn't really change what was successful during the year... stick to the system because the system works," said Eriksson, who was just getting started.
"Hockey players shouldn't think, hockey players should just react and play, stick to that and not start thinking and talking about whatever happened before, how the season was against Chicago, and the power play, and whatever it is now really has nothing to do with this. You've got a clean slate, you start all over again, you get ready to go. What you concentrate on right now is the first game, and it's gonna be a tough one. It's gonna be awesome, it's gonna be loud, and it's gonna be exciting."
Eriksson also shared his perspective on the team's ailing power-play, which finished the season 0 for 43 over the final 10 games.
"The longer you go without scoring goals, the closer to getting goals you are."
The entire team, both coaches and players, are as happy to have the affable Swede back as he is to have returned.
"We've got Eriksson back, which will help by having more experience on the line. It's gonna be huge for us," said Curtis Glencross
"I'm pleased that he went through waivers and that he'll be able to play for us," said head coach Mike Keenan, who expects Eriksson to see ice time Thursday in Chicago.
The waiver issue made for an interesting 24 hours for the Flames, who put Eriksson on re-entry waivers Monday. Any team lower in the standings than the Flames could have claimed Eriksson before the 10:00 am deadline, but he wouldn't have been eligible for their playoff roster. Eriksson was happy that no competing team tried to game the system, claiming him to keep him out of Calgary.
"I don't think anyone wants to be that kind of an organization, it's not the right thing to do," said Eriksson. "If somebody had (claimed) me I would have said thanks, have a great summer, and I would have gone home... I was hoping nobody would."
Eriksson had a very successful season in Quad City, scoring 49 points and anchoring the power play. But now that he is officially on the roster, he is ready to make the most of the opportunity to begin a collection of championship rings.
"The playoffs are the playoffs and anything can happen and if I get in to play I'm going to do my best to help the team," said Eriksson. "We've got a great team here. It's gonna be a battle."