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Jokinen thriving since trade to Flames

by Torie Peterson
Olli Jokinen has been nothing but impressive since coming to the Calgary Flames at the March 4 NHL trade deadline. In seven games heading into Friday, Jokinen has 8 goals and 2 assists, adding just the offensive punch the Flames were seeking.

The trade gave Jokinen a fresh start after he totaled 21 goals and 21 assists in 57 games with the Phoenix Coyotes. It had been Jokinen's first season in Phoenix after seven seasons in Florida.

The trade to the playoff-bound Flames also will provide Jokinen with an opportunity he never has enjoyed in his previous 10 seasons -- a chance to compete in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"We always said we wanted someone who is a No. 1 centerman and it's always hard to attain that player," Flames GM Darryl Sutter told the NHL Network. "To do that sends a message that we're not just trying to make the playoffs, but go deep in the playoffs. I think it should be an easy transition, especially with Mike (Keenan) having coached Jokinen before."

"I have never been traded at the deadline, so it will be interesting to join a new team at this time of the year," Jokinen told the NHL Network. "I just have to bring my best and do my best every single night. That's all I can do. I don't have to impress the reporters and that kind of stuff."

Included in his output since joining the Flames was a three-goal, five-point effort in a loss to the Maple Leafs on March 14.

"He's been amazing for us," Mike Cammalleri said.

"I think the addition of him is really going to be good," Flames captain Jarome Iginla said. "He's such a big, powerful center, but he's very fast, too. He's got good wheels and I think we've had some good chemistry and some give and go's. There are some things to build on and I think it's going to keep getting better and I'm excited about it."

Jokinen has brushed off accolades about his talent, giving the credit for his great play to his teammates and good bounces.

"It's a good hockey team and I'm playing with good players like Jarome. I get a lot of chances and I feel a little bit lucky, the puck's been following me."

Iginla and Jokinen have started to click on ice. Their chemistry was on display in the loss to the Leafs, with each of them assisting on one of the other's goals.

"He's scored some huge goals for us," Iginla said before the game. "He's been happy to be here and excited to get ready for this playoff push and the playoffs. He's brought a lot of energy to our team."

Against the Leafs, Jokinen put his offensive repertoire on display. His first goal came on the power play. Iginla drew the attention of the Toronto defense, giving Jokinen enough space to get in front of the net and convert Iginla's shot. He also assisted on a Dion Phaneuf power-play goal.

Jokinen's second goal came in the dying minutes of the second period. Jokinen flipped the puck over the Toronto defense, saw the puck bouncing and batted at it. He managed to hit the puck and knocked it past goalie Martin Gerber, surprising everyone.

"I had good speed and tried to go by their defense. It went in the air, I followed and I just tried to hit the net and it went in," Jokinen said.

He assisted on Iginla's third-period goal with a great pass from the boards for his fourth point of the night.

"He's really flying," Iginla said of Jokinen after the game.

The Flames were able to pull within a goal with just over two minutes left in the third period when Jokinen capped his hat trick. With the Flames' net empty, Calgary swarmed the Toronto goal. It was Jokinen's sixth career hat trick and his second this season.

Jokinen wasn't just an offensive force in the game. He played a very good defensive game, getting back quickly to his own zone and making smart plays. That kind of play has to make the coaching staff very happy, as the rest of the Flames forwards didn't look too defensively sound in the game.

"We've got to play better defense," he said. "We've got to help our defense and just be better in our own zone. We have a top goalie in the League who's giving us a chance to win every night and we just have to bear down defensively."

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