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Iginla, Jokinen starting to connect on goals, wins

by Todd Kimberley /
CALGARY -- The spontaneous combustion theory never took hold.

But eight months after they were thrown together, the Calgary Flames top-line pairing of Jarome Iginla and Olli Jokinen is finally starting to catch fire.

"I think it's just playing together longer," Iginla told reporters at the Pengrowth Saddledome on Wednesday morning. "We're getting used to each other's games, and enjoying playing together."

The Flames captain's 16 goals are good for third in the NHL.

"Yeah, I think we're starting to get a little better reads off each other, what each other likes to do, and . . . it's more natural,"said Iginla. "The game's so quick out there, you don't want to be thinking instead of reacting. So, yeah, it's going in the right direction."

When the Flames landed Jokinen from Phoenix in March, pulling off the monster deal of the 2008-09 trade deadline, it was expected the high-scoring Finn was the No. 1 center the club had been seeking for years, and would be the yin to Iginla's yang.

But Iginla and Jokinen waned after a fantastic first few games together, and were eventually separated by then-head coach Mike Keenan.

Reunited at this season's training camp, the pair didn't show much more in the way of symbiosis through October, and was again split up.
But since being thrown back together again, Iginla and Jokinen seem to be speaking the same language.

Heading into Wednesday's home game against the Coyotes, Iginla (16-7-23) and Jokinen (3-12-15) were each carrying personal season-high point streaks of five games.

"I think they have (been better together). You've got two elite players, and at the level they both can play at, they feed off each other," said Flames head coach Brent Sutter. "We've put them back together, and especially the last two games on the road, the way they've played, they just have to carry on that way, because that's what we expect of them."

Iginla, in particular, has been on a tear in recent games, with his first hat-trick of the season on Saturday in a 5-2 win at Los Angeles and the clutch tying goal with 18 seconds left in the third period Monday during a 3-2 shootout loss at Anaheim.

"We think we're getting better scoring chances as a line," said Iginla, who has seven goals in his past five games. "We want to keep that going. We feel like it's coming.

"The whole thing is about a season is streaks, and trying to (stay) hot as long as you can. I've had some good bounces, some great passes, a couple of pretty wide-open nets. It's been fun."

As for the left-winger on the Flames' top line, that's still a revolving door, which most often has seen Curtis Glencross draw the plum assignment.

"It's something we continue to work on," said Sutter. "Two games ago, (AHL call-up) Jamie Lundmark did a great job there. Last game, he fought it a little bit and we put Dustin Boyd there, and Boyd did a good job there.

"We're kind of going with the flow . . . whoever's a good fit for that night, that's who'll play there with them."
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