Yzerman's play getting stronger as season progresses

DenisePopiolek

Written By CP of the Calgary Sun

This is why Stevie Y came back for another year.

"I'm getting one more opportunity to play for the Stanley Cup so I'm pretty thrilled about that," says Yzerman.

The playoffs start next weekend and the Wings will be at home against the Edmonton Oilers.

A rejuvenated Yzerman will lead his Wings onto NHL playoff ice for the 20th time in his career. Yzerman, who turns 41 May 9, seems to have found a new lease on his hockey life this season, especially in the second half.

"Even before the Olympic break, I don't know why but I felt quicker, probably just from playing consistently as opposed to the year off when

I didn't play and didn't skate that much," Yzerman said in a recent phone interview. "Getting hurt and missing the first part of this season really set me back.

"It just took a while to get comfortable with the pace of play and just getting back and playing the game without thinking so much."

With 14 points in his last 12 games, Yzerman appears to have enough game left to play at least another year but he hasn't made that decision yet.

"I think I'll make a decision after the playoffs. Let's see how they go and go from there," said Yzerman, who has sat out the last two games to rest for the playoffs.

In many ways, Yzerman is like the winner of the NHL's version of Survivor. Al MacInnis, Mark Messier, Scott Stevens, Vincent Damphousse and Ron Francis, among others, called it quits before the season.

Brett Hull, Mario Lemieux and Dave Andreychuk followed suit early in the season. The new NHL wasn't for them.

Not Yzerman, his decision to come back is playing out as the right one.

"There were times early this year where

I really questioned my decision to come back but right now, I'm really enjoying it," he said.

"So, to this point, I'm pleased and I'm really excited about participating in the playoffs one more time."

One more Stanley Cup ring wouldn't hurt, either.

"I'd love to do it one more time," he said.

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