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On top of his game

by Torie Peterson / Calgary Flames

Despite only having played two games during the preseason, Olli Jokinen has been turning heads with his impressive play and offensive output. The centerman has accumulated six points in his two outings and shows no signs of slowing down.

“It’s nice,” he said of the compliments being doled out at him.

“I think we’re going in the right direction as a team but it’s good we have more time to practice before the regular season.”

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After being picked up at the trade deadline last season from the Phoenix Coyotes, Jokinen potted eight goals and 15 points in 19 games with the Flames. While he had some excellent games, he also had lackluster nights that had some criticizing the Flames trade deadline acquisition.

“Last year, getting traded here at the trade deadline and playing most of the games at the end of the year with the 15, 16 guys and travel days … there were probably 10-15 practices. That would be the only practice we had last year.”

“Now we already feel like we have ten practices right now under our belts.”

That practice time appears to be paying off. His chemistry with linemate Jarome Iginla looks potent just two games into the preseason, something that is pleasing to the fans, coaching staff and the players themselves.

“We skate every day, we practice, we play games and you can feel that chemistry building up,” he said.

“It’s only going to get better.”

The two made a spectacular bank pass play that demonstrated the pair’s growing familiarity with each other.

“We’ve been doing that in practice …  in practice you can try plays like that. It paid off,” Jokinen said of the goal.

“The biggest thing for me and Iggy and whoever’s playing with us is that we can cycle the puck pretty good and we can protect the puck. The biggest thing for our line is to keep moving and let the puck do the work for you.”

Despite notching a goal and two assists in the tilt against his former club, Jokinen believes he still has work to do before the regular season kicks off.

“Never be standing still,” he said.

“A couple times in the third period I found myself standing. You just got to keep moving and play a pass ahead. You’ve got to know where you’re going to put the puck before the puck gets to you.”

Overall, Jokinen feels the team has responded well to Sutter’s defensive style of play and while everyone is still working out what their role is, the team has made definite strides in their performance.

“Good things happen when all five guys on the ice doing their own thing and everyone knows what to do. Then you create turnovers and you get chances,” he smiled.

“I think we have a good system in place now and we believe, as a team, that once we have every guy buying into that system and playing with the team rules we’ll have a lot of chances. That way the chemistry is going to be better too, once everyone is doing what we’re supposed to.”

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