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Ducks' Koivu has butterflies in Finland

by Risto Pakarinen
HELSINKI – Saku Koivu's hometown an hour and a half from Finland's capital city of Helsinki, but he was pleasantly surprised at the welcome he got when he was introduced to the Hartwall Areena crowd before the Anaheim Ducks' exhibition game against Helsinki Jokerit.

And you would think that playing in Finland wouldn't have been a big deal for the former Montreal Canadiens' captain, who hails from Turku.


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"I was surprised at how nervous I was," Koivu said Tuesday. "It was just an exhibition game, but in the warmups it felt like it was one of my first games. But when we got going in the second period, things got easier." 

But what made him happiest was seeing the crowd's reaction when Teemu Selanne was introduced.

"I was really happy for him," Koivu said. "I got an amazing reception but it was his night, being from here and playing against his old team. It was nice that he could feel the appreciation they have for him, for all the things he’s done for the club over the years."

While the Ducks beat Jokerit in overtime, Koivu didn't think they're ready for Friday's season-opening game against the Buffalo Sabres yet.

"It was an average game, which was to be expected," Koivu said. "We've traveled a long way, and still have a bit of a jetlag, but it was a good to play a tough game here, and then maybe get the body ready for Friday."

Both Selanne and Koivu wished that the team could get a little more rest between Tuesday and Friday, to end their training camp which has been tough.

"We've worked on a new system, and paid more attention to that than in my previous seasons with the Ducks, but hockey is a physical game and if you don't skate, it's hard to win," Koivu said. "It'd be nice to take it a little easier, and get our energy levels back to full."
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