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Newest Flame is burning bright for Calgary

by John Kreiser
Olli Jokinen will play his first home game as a Calgary Flame on Wednesday. The fans at the Pengrowth Saddledome figure to give him a huge ovation.

Jokinen has been on fire since coming to Calgary from Phoenix at the trade deadline. He had 6 goals and 2 assists last week, including a hat trick Saturday night in Toronto. In his six games as a Flame, he has 8 goals -- not counting the shootout winner he had in a 6-5 victory at Detroit Thursday, a game in which he also scored twice in regulation.

Jokinen's heroics all have come on the road -- he joined the team before the second stop of its seven-game road trip. The 30-year-old center has fit perfectly with Mike Keenan, his former coach with Florida, and is on the way to the postseason for the first time in his career. If he keeps playing like this, it could be a long playoff run.

Five up -- Five players who've been producing:

Martin Brodeur -- Lost in the celebration of Brodeur's tying Patrick Roy's career record for regular-season wins by a goaltender is the fact that he's started all eight games since returning from a torn biceps tendon, and won seven of them, including all three he played last week. He allowed just five goals while going 3-0-0.

Sidney Crosby -- The Pittsburgh Penguins and their captain both are on a roll. Crosby had 2 goals and 8 points in four games last week, extending his point streak to 10 games -- and the Penguins have lost just once in their first month under new coach Dan Bylsma to move into fifth place in the Eastern Conference.

Kari Lehtonen -- Lehtonen is a big reason Atlanta is playing its best hockey of the season. He's 4-0-0 in his last four starts and has allowed just five goals while posting a pair of shutouts.

Pavel Datsyuk --
Datsyuk continues to pile up points with a minimum of attention. He had seven in Detroit's four games last week and could have the first 100-point season of his sterling career.

Mark Streit --
Not much has gone right for the New York Islanders this season, but GM Garth Snow's signing of Streit this past summer certainly has been a positive. He had 3 goals and 6 points last week, and he's tied for third in the League for scoring among defensemen.

Five down -- Five players who've struggled:

Braydon Coburn -- Coburn was an offensive force with Philadelphia last season, especially on the power play. Not so this season: Despite averaging more than 24 minutes a game, he hasn't had a point in his last 10 outings.

Tomas Fleischmann -- Fleischmann's season was going great (16 goals) until mid-February, when his scoring touch disappeared. He has no points and is minus-2 in Washington's last seven games, and has just 1 goal in his last 15.

Ales Kotalik --
Edmonton dealt for Kotalik at the deadline in the hope he could provide an offensive spark, but the Oilers still are waiting. Kotalik, who didn't have a point in his last two games with Buffalo, hasn't had any in his first five with the Oilers.

Dominic Moore -- Like Kotalik, Moore was dealt at the deadline and has yet to do anything for his new team. He's pointless in five games since being acquired by Buffalo from Toronto and has been in the penalty box for power-play goals in two of the Sabres' last three games.

Miikka Kiprusoff -- The NHL's leader in victories has been struggling in his last few games. He's allowed 19 goals in his last four starts -- a span that includes two losses, a 6-5 shootout win and a no-decision in which he surrendered six goals before being lifted.

Injuries, news and notes

Out --
Atlanta captain Ilya Kovalchuk sustained an upper body injury early in Thursday's 4-3 overtime win at Edmonton. He did not return and sat out Saturday's game at Buffalo. ... Islanders forward Kurtis McLean is out indefinitely with a leg injury sustained in a soccer game prior to Thursday's game at Montreal. Goalie Joey MacDonald injured his knee and forward Sean Bergenheim tweaked his groin Tuesday and neither has played since; MacDonald is day-to-day while Bergenheim is expected to miss two weeks. ... Boston forward Stephane Yelle has missed five straight games with an upper-body injury. ... Ottawa defenseman Jason Smith is out with a knee injury. It's not known how long he'll be sidelined. Another defenseman, Anton Volchenkov, left Saturday's game with a lower-body injury and didn't return. ... Florida defenseman Bryan McCabe has missed the Panthers' last three games with a fractured orbital bone, though the team hopes he'll be able to play this week. ... Washington forward Donald Brashear sprained his knee Tuesday and hasn't played since. ... Detroit forward Valtteri Filppula missed Sunday's game with back spasms. ... San Jose defenseman Christian Ehrhoff missed Saturday's game with a lower-body injury. ... Montreal forward Alexei Kovalev missed games Thursday and Saturday with the flu. ... Colorado lost defenseman Daniel Tjarnqvist Sunday night when he was hit near the right eye by a slap shot midway through the second period. Another defenseman, Adam Foote, missed Colorado's weekend games with a head injury sustained Thursday.

Returning -- Marian Hossa returned to Detroit's lineup Saturday against St. Louis, 10 days after being sidelined due to neck and knee injuries from when he crashed into the boards against the Blues ... San Jose goaltender Evgeni Nabokov returned Saturday after missing seven games, first with the flu, then with a lower-body injury. Defenseman Rob Blake also returned Saturday after missing a week with a leg injury. ... Chicago goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin played Sunday for the first time since Feb. 11, when he went down with a lower-body injury. ... Calgary center Daymond Langkow came back Tuesday after sitting out nine games with a bruised hand. ... Ottawa forward Chris Neil returned Thursday after missing 15 games with a lacerated calf. ... Los Angeles reactivated forward Raitis Ivanans after he missed nearly three weeks with an upper-body injury. ... Edmonton captain Ethan Moreau, wearing a face shield, returned Thursday after missing four games with an eye injury. ... San Jose forward Marcel Goc, out 14 games with a lower-body injury, was back in the lineup Thursday. ... Islanders forward Nate Thompson returned Thursday after missing five weeks with a shoulder injury, and teammate Richard Park was back in the lineup Saturday after missing nearly four weeks with broken ribs. ... Petr Sykora returned to action for Pittsburgh on Saturday after missing three games with an upper-body injury. ... Florida forward Rostislav Olesz played Saturday after missing 41 games following sports hernia surgery.

Still out -- Buffalo goaltender Ryan Miller, who went down with a high ankle sprain 23 days ago, is still not ready to return. ... St. Louis defenseman Eric Brewer may not return this season. He's been out since mid-December with back problems and underwent surgery to correct the problem, but has had to curtail his rehab. ... Nashville center Radek Bonk, one of the NHL's best on faceoffs, has been able to skate on his own, but is not ready to play due to an upper-body injury. ... Chicago forward Patrick Sharp is skating again as he works his way back from a knee injury sustained Feb. 14. He's missed 13 games. The Blackhawks also hope to get center Samuel Pahlsson, a deadline-day acquisition, into the lineup in a week or so. He's been out since Jan. 31 with mononucleosis. ... Minnesota defenseman Brent Burns likely will miss another few games with concussion-like symptoms that have kept him out for more than a week ... Toronto defenseman Jonas Frogren likely won't play again this season due to a sprained knee ligament. Another Leafs defenseman, Mike Van Ryn, tore a knee ligament and will miss the rest of the season -- as will goaltender Vesa Toskala, who had hip surgery last week. ... Chicago defenseman Brent Sopel is able to work out again after undergoing elbow surgery; he's been out since Dec. 20, though GM Dale Tallon hopes Sopel will be able to play before the end of the season.

The week ahead -- The schedule slows down somewhat from last week's hectic pace -- only nine teams (down from 15) play four games, and five (up from one) have just two on the schedule.

Games to watch
Chicago at New Jersey (March 17) --
The Prudential Center figures to be packed as goaltender Martin Brodeur goes for his 552nd win, which would move him past Patrick Roy for first place on the all-time list.

Philadelphia at Detroit (March 17, 7:30 p.m. ET, VERSUS, TSN2) -- The Flyers will try to win at Detroit for the first time in more than 20 years. Philadelphia has 13 losses and two ties at Joe Louis Arena since winning 4-3 on Nov. 4, 1988.

Chicago at Columbus (March 18) -- The Blackhawks come to Nationwide Arena hoping to avenge a home loss to the Jackets last Friday. Chicago has lost all three meetings with Columbus this season.

Philadelphia at Pittsburgh (March 22, 12:30 p.m. ET, NBC) -- The Flyers again bring NBC with them for a Sunday afternoon road game; this time, they make their first visit to Pittsburgh since Nov. 13. The Penguins have won four of the teams' five meetings this season.

New Jersey at Boston (March 22) -- The Bruins, whose struggles have let New Jersey get closer in the race for the top spot in the Eastern Conference, would really help themselves with a victory.

Tough week ahead
Dallas Stars --
The injury-depleted Stars head West this week for games in Western Canada against Vancouver and Calgary, the top two teams in the Northwest Division, and a stop in San Jose to play the Pacific Division-leading Sharks.

Edmonton Oilers --
The Oilers start the week with a big home game against St. Louis, one of the teams they're battling in the Western Conference playoff scramble, and then visit Colorado, Chicago and Minnesota in a four-day span.

Washington Capitals --
It's a busy week for the Capitals, who visit all four of their Southeast Division rivals in a six-night span, beginning Monday night at Atlanta.

Easy week ahead

Boston Bruins --
The Bruins get a breather before the stretch run for the Eastern Conference title. They play only twice this week, both at home -- though the second game is a big one against New Jersey.

Calgary Flames --
After seven games and two weeks on the road, the Flames get a breather. Not only are they home, but they play only twice -- against Dallas and St. Louis, both of which are well below them in the West.

Pittsburgh Penguins -- The Pens, one of the NHL's hottest teams, play all three of their games at home as part of an eight-game homestand. Two of this week's games are against teams currently out of the top eight in their conference (Atlanta and Los Angeles) before Philadelphia comes to town Sunday.
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