CALGARY – Olli Jokinen and Alex Tanguay are looking to build some early chemistry to start their second stints in Calgary.
They may have found it with Flames captain Jarome Iginla.
Jokinen and Tanguay each had a goal and an assist playing on a line with Iginla in an intrasquad game Monday afternoon. The trio led Calgary’s Red team to a 3-1 win over White in front of an enthusiastic group of about 1,000 fans at Max Bell Arena.
“It was a good start,” said Jokinen, whose Red teammates will stay in Calgary to face the Vancouver Canucks at the Saddledome on Tuesday, while the White team head west to face Vancouver’s second squad at GM Place. “You want to build that chemistry. It’s been working pretty good early on. It’s going to be better tomorrow.”
Having talked about Calgary’s new top line ad nauseam during the first few days of training camp, Tanguay enjoyed the chance to play alongside Jokinen and Iginla in a game situation.
“We’re just trying to build a little chemistry and find the things that will make us successful,” Tanguay said.
Jay Bouwmeester also scored for Red, while Niklas Hagman scored the lone goal for White.
Playing on a line with Rene Bourque and former Toronto Maple Leafs teammate Matt Stajan, Hagman appeared to have recovered from the flu symptoms that kept him off the ice for Saturday’s ice sessions at the Pengrowth Saddledome.
“He scored a nice goal there,” said Calgary coach Brent Sutter. “I thought it took a little bit to get his feet going today because he’s only been on the ice one day because he’s been sick. I thought in the second half he was moving his feet and skating.”
Acquired along with Matt Stajan and Ian White in last season’s trade that sent Dion Phaneuf to the Toronto Maple Leafs, Hagman was disappointed that he only managed to put up five goals and six assists in 27 games with the Flames.
“To be honest, after the season I felt that I should have done and I could have done better,” said Hagman, who played on a line with Stajan and Rene Bourque. “For some reason it didn’t work.”
Having scored at least 20 goals and 40 points in three straight seasons, Hagman has confidence he can increase those totals in his first full season with the Flames.
“I’m trying to get that shooting first mentality,” Hagman said. “It builds your confidence too. When you feel good, you’d rather shoot. Obviously right from start of the training camp and in these games if I get a chance, I’ll try to shoot obviously. If the guys are open I’ll try to find them too.”
Goalie Miikka Kiprusoff played the first half of the game for Red and didn’t allow a goal, although he wasn’t tested much. Prospect Leland Irving played the second half and only allowed Hagman’s shot to get past him.
At the other end of the rink, Henrik Karlsson allowed just one power-play goal, a tap-in by Bouwmeester, late in the first half of the game. Karlsson, who suited up for Farjestad in the Swedish Elite League last season, also made several other outstanding saves to keep the game close.
“He made four or five pretty big saves there,” said Sutter of the six-foot-five netminder who the Flames acquired from the San Jose Sharks. “You expected there to be some quality scoring chances. I thought he had a good day.”
Karlsson is expected to start the season as Kiprusoff’s backup and is tying to show the Flames he can play at the NHL level.
“I just tried to go out there and play my game as good as I could today,” Karlsson said. “I think there (were) a couple things I can take with me that (were) working pretty good and I think also a couple things that I’m going to have to work a little harder on. Overall I’m pretty happy with the performance.”
Matt Keetley played the second half of the intrasquad game in net for White and allowed a one-timer by Jokinen and a breakaway goal by Tanguay to get past him.
Overall, Sutter said he was impressed with the speed of both teams and he wants to see players to continue to skate as hard as they can.
“That’s something that we’ve been emphasizing since Day 1 is being a quicker team,” said the second-year Calgary coach. “We want to be a team that’s moving. You have to be able to play that way now and we want to play that way.”