Unheralded defenseman saves Anaheim

Updated: June 2, 2003, 11:39 AM ET
By By Jim Wilkie | NHL Insider
He needed a timely overtime goal in Game 3 to do it, but Mighty Ducks defenseman Ruslan Salei is finally getting credit for his contributions to the surprising success of the Mighty Ducks.

As a defensive defenseman, it's a testament to his abilities and style that he has gone largely unnoticed outside of Anaheim. On a club that has epitomized teamwork, "Rusty" Salei is among the least sung of many unsung heroes.

"They have an exceptional back end, very, very good," Mighty Ducks head coach Mike Babcock told reporters, referring to New Jersey's defense. "But we think we have a real good back end, as well. Rusty is a hard guy who moves the puck and skates. When you look at that, he's a big-time factor for us."