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Inside the Game: Crushing the Kings

by Mike Board / Calgary Flames


Counting the Calgary Flames line combinations this season could be considered a full-time job. There have been more combinations from game-to-game, and from shift-to-shift than in recent memory. And that was the case once again on Tuesday as the Flames hosted the Los Angeles Kings at the Pengrowth Saddledome. But, if the result is any indication, head coach Mike Keenan may have found some combinations to stick with. Particularly the first and third units.

Flames Line Combinations


Defence Pairings:
Kiprusoff (S)  McElhinney

Matthew Lombardi, playing in just his second game after missing 13 with a shoulder injury, was paired with Michael Cammalleri and Jarome Iginla on the showcase first line and it paid dividends immediately. Cammalleri, playing against his former team, bagged the first goal on a tic-tac-toe play started when Lombardi undressed Sean O'Donnell along the boards, centered to Iginla, who tapped to Cammalleri who rifled a wrist shot past Kings starter Erik Ersberg.

The second line was comprised of Todd Bertuzzi, Daymond Langkow and Dustin Boyd and, throughout the first period, they buzzed and had plenty of scoring chances -- the best might have been Bertuzzi's attempted one-timer that rolled awkwardly off his stick and wide. The third line, with Craig Conroy, Curtis Glencross and Rene Bourque, were also an offensive factor -- counting in on three of the Flames six tallies. Late in the first period Conroy was stopped on a breakaway but just 20 seconds later Bourque flew in off the right side and wired a wrist shot top shelf, for the first of his two on the night.

In the second period Iginla scored during a five-on-three advantage to make it 3-0 for the home squad.

Life for the Flames and their lines, looked pretty darn good at that point.

"Any chance that I can get to play with him is exciting," said Cammalleri of playing with Iginla.

Lombardi, a speedster with hands, was also happy to play with the Flames captain. "We can make a lot of things happen out there as a line. You can't say enough about Jarome. And Cammy has been playing well. He's got a great hockey mind and shoots well. You just have to go out and work hard and everything will take care of itself."

Which, essentially, is what the Flames did Tuesday, methodically working hard and picking apart a young Kings team that was playing on the road for just the sixth time this season. Sure, there were breakdowns, but goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff was there to make the stops and steer out rebounds to safety. Pretty much a solid team effort all-around.

In the second period Glencross, with his second goal in as many games, put the Flames up 4-0 and that chased Ersberg from the Kings net.

"it worked out well tonight," said Bourque of the third line. "The other two guys played great games. We didn't turn the puck over and we got it deep."

The Flames slipped up early in the third period when Alexander Frolov scored on a short-haned rush to makes the score 4-1. However, David Moss, on a feed from Lombardi scored a little more than a minute later while the Flames were stil on the power play.

THE BIG HITS: There were two big hits on the third shift of the game -- one for each squad. First Kings 18-year-old defenceman Drew Doughty leveled Eric Nystrom in open ice, catching the Flames winger with his head down in the neutral zone. Shortly after, another young King, Oscar Moller, who happened to have two goals against Calgary the last time the two teams met, was heading up ice out of the Kings zone when he was caught by a Dion Phaneuf shoulder. Unfortunately for Phaneuf, the puck didn't arrive in time for the hit and he received an interference penalty.
WHY THE FLAMES WON: They kept the pressure on a young Kings team, skated hard at both ends of the ice and got the goaltending when it was needed. "We played with confidence right away. We played our game and didn't vary from the system."
THE BIG MELEE: Both referees missed a Derek Armstrong stick to the face of Flames d-man Dion Phaneuf with 4:10 remaining in the second period. That enraged Phaneuf who got up and belted Armstrong into the boards. An extra shot earned him a penalty but the play developed into a bit of a line brawl. Before the emotions settled Phaneuf ended up fighting Sean O'Donnell, who received an instigator, while Flames D Cory Sarich received a roughing minor and King Raitis Ivanans got four minutes for roughing.

THE ROSTER: The Flames scratches were F Andre Roy and F Brandon Prust. D James Vandermeer (broken leg) is injured. D Rhett Warrener remains on the long-term injury list.

BACK IN THE SADDLE: Flames forward Matthew Lombardi might have missed 13 games with an injury but he doesn't appear to have lost any fitness. "It's tough being on the sidelines like that. The only good thing was being able to skate and stay in good shape. The tough part is coming into camp feeling good after working so hard over the summer and getting sidelined with an injury early. You don't want to lose everything you gained in the summer."

BY THE NUMBERS: Calgary has now scored five or more goals in a game four gimes this season. The six against the Kings is the second most priductive game of the season. The Flames scored seven against Nashville on Nov. 6 at home...Flames D Cory Sarich reached the 100-point mark in his NHL career with an assist on the Flames fourth goal of the game...Seven of Jarome Iginla's 12 goals this season have come on the power play. The Flames captain has two goals and three assists in his last four games...Kings forward and captain Dustin Brown had four of the Kings nine shots on net in the first period...Calgary is now 2-0 against the Kings this season...
THE MERCY PULL: Los Angeles coach Terry Murray wisely yanked goalie Erik Ersberg in the second period after the Flames fourth goal on 18 shots. He was getting little support from the skaters in front of him.The obvious though process is not to further damage the psyche of the team's emerging No. 1 goalie. He was replaced by Jason LaBarbera in the Kings net. The Flames went to work quickly on him with Eric Nystrom tipping a shot past him just moments after he had completed his stretches. However, the goal was disallowed as referee Don Koharski, and the review board in Toronto, ruled that it was a high-stick tip-in.
UP NEXT: The schedule, at least for the next two games, is a tough one. The Flames play a home-and-home against Northwest Division leader Vancouver with the first match going in Vancouver on Thursday at GM Place. The Canucks are without captain and No. 1 goaltender Roberto Luongo but that didn't stop them from claiming a 3-2 overtime win over Detroit on Monday. The two teams tangle again on Saturday at the Pengrowth Saddledome.
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