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Flames prep for Canucks Tuesday

by Kristi Hennessy / Calgary Flames


Coach Brent Sutter is the guy behind all of the line shuffles. Sometimes they work, and sometimes they don't. That is all part of the game of hockey.

Monday night's game saw yet another newly formed line. The "Euro line" made up of Niklas Hagman, Mikael Backlund at centre and Olli Jokinen on the other wing, so far is showing positive effects after just one game.

"I wouldn't put it that we were anything outstanding but it was a decent game," said Olli Jokinen.

"I've been playing with Hagman for probably over 200 games in this league and in the Finnish National game. With him I know what he's going to do. He's got a good skill set; he's a good player and works hard. For Backlund, it is his first full year. He's been getting better and better as the season goes on. It was one game and it's a new test tomorrow. A lot bigger test tomorrow, so we'll have to be better than we were last night."

Coach Sutter added that while he knows it was just the first game with this line, he sees a lot of potential and likes how the three complement each other.

"I thought that line played well," said Sutter. "I liked Olli on the wing and I think Back had one of his strongest games of the year, and Hags was very steady. They have that creativity mindset. If you can find three players like that, that are gifted and can think the game in the defensive zone too, it's nice to have."


There has been a lot of pressure lately on winger Alex Tanguay to not only be the playmaker that he is, but also to shoot the puck and put goals on the board.

For Tanguay, although he understands this pressure and the need to score goals, his focus has been on working hard and being competitive night in and night out.

"I still feel I have more offence I can bring to the forefront," said Tanguay. "I need to do my job as we all have a job here to do. With the ice time I have, I'm expected to produce offensively and I like to be in that position. It's a fun position to be in. I'm just hoping I can help the guys out as much as possible."

There were assumptions from media and fans that Tanguay was washed up and his offensive talent was done when he first signed in Calgary. Tanguay couldn't disagree more. He feels that just because he is an older player now and has battled through a few tough seasons with injuries, doesn't mean that he doesn't still have a lot to give to the game of hockey.

"I don't focus on what's being said and what's not being said. If I had listened to what all the reporters and everyone was saying about me this summer, I'd probably be retired right now. It makes no difference. I am 31-years old, I still feel like I have lots of hockey left ahead of me. I feel better now skating than I've felt in the last two or three years. I still think I can improve and my focus is on this team and doing my job."

Captain Jarome Iginla jokes with Tanguay that his shot gets harder every year he plays in the league as he watched a riffle fly off Tanguay's stick in Monday night's game. It's proven that when he works hard and drives the net, good things can happen and you will be rewarded as they saw in Monday's game against the Wild.

"I just tell him it's the new stick," joked Tanguay. "I used to play with a wood stick when I was here a few years back and now I have one of those one-piece sticks. I'm putting the competition on him so he shoots harder when he gets it so my shot won't be faster than his!"

With the coaches and crowd chanting , "Shoot Tanguay!", what exactly is going through his head? Why doesn't he shoot more than he does?

"I'm trying to be less predictable," explained Tanguay. "When you skate into the zone and people expect you to pass, it's a lot easier to cover. If I shoot a few pucks, the passes will open up later. I've made some good passes but I also need to take the shots when it's there."


"I was watching an interview earlier in the year with Sidney Crosby, who is the best player in the game in my mind, and they asked him, what's the one thing you want to do? He said, "Play unpredictable."

For me, everybody knows I like to pass the puck but sometimes when the shot is there, I have to take the shot. - Alex Tanguay on playing unpredictable.

Author: Kristi Hennessy

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