September 18, 2005
New rules on display in Flames' game
By RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun
CHICAGO -- Last night's game was hardly a thing of aesthetic beauty but the good news is it was an extreme demonstration of the new NHL.
Extreme with a capital 'E.'
The key changes brought forth for hockey's rebirth were prominently on display during last night's 5-4 Chicago Blackhawks win over the Calgary Flames in pre-season action at the United Center.
A goalie -- Philippe Sauve -- was penalized for playing the puck outside the trapezoid area behind the net.
A now-allowable two-line pass resulted in a breakaway.
And lots of obstruction penalties were called.
Lots and lots and lots of penalties.
A grand total of 28 powerplays worth nearly 43 minutes resulted from the steady parade of players headed for the sin bin.
Yet Jarome Iginla said he and his teammates were fine with the game's direction.
"It seemed a little more cut and dried for the refs," said the Calgary captain, who played his first pre-season clash. "It was a tough game as far as penalty killing and powerplay but I think we'll be able to adjust.
"There will be more scoring chances and you can still get some big hits -- I got pumped on one there -- so it's going to be really good."
Calgary's powerplay had 17 opportunities on the night, tallying twice, while the Blackhawks posted a 3-for-11 mark, with two coming during early five-on-threes.
Iginla pledged games will open up without turning into a special team's display.
"There's certain habits we've gotten into. Pretty much every player wants to hook when they get beat," he explained. "When you take it into a game, you see the team that adjusts best will get out of the gate. Everyone will adjust eventually but it's going to be about the team that adjusts the quickest."
Besides, it was the first time all the skaters had performed with the increased scrutiny, something assistant coach Rich Preston noted would mean plenty of penalties while the theories are put into practice.
"It's a real partnership with the referees. Both games they came in and talked to the players before the game and are making a point of talking to them on the ice," Preston said.
"It's an educational experience for the referees and the players and it's going to take a while but in the long run it's going to be the best.
"They don't want just special teams but do want the freedom cutting down obstruction will allow."
Rene Bourque, last year's AHL rookie of the year, paced the 'Hawks with a pair of goals, including the winner with 18 seconds remaining in regulation. Cam Barker, Kyle Calder and Matthew Barnaby also tallied for the hosts.
Iginla, Jordan Leopold, Mark Giordano and Chris Simon scored for Calgary, which iced a strong squad that boasted the top three lines as well as three of the top-six defencemen.
Giordano had three points.
Plainly evident from the tilt is both the powerplay and the ALI line -- Iginla, Tony Amonte and Daymond Langkow -- are far from high gear. Langkow is certain it's just a matter of time.
"It's going to take a couple more exhibition games," said the centre.
"You could see out there we'd be cycling in the corners and a guy would dump it one way but the other guy would go the other way.
"It's just going to take a couple more games to know each other's going to be out there."
Brent Krahn stopped 18 of 21 shots in the Flames net while Sauve blocked 11 of 13 while taking the loss.
Michael Leighton went the distance for the 'Hawks, stopping 33 pucks.
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ICE CHIPS: Iginla, Amonte and Steve Reinprecht all scored in the shootout exhibition, which Calgary won ... Calgary's next pre-season tilt is Wednesday when the Blackhawks come calling.
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HOW EACH FLAME DID VS. THE BLACKHAWKS
PHILIPPE SAUVE: Called for playing the puck outside the trapezoid area behind the net. Allowed weak winning goal in dying seconds.
BRENT KRAHN: Good save in the first period on Mark Bell as well as on a Kyle Calder breakaway. Was down on his knees on all three goals allowed.
ROMAN HAMRLIK: Looked rusty with his decision making, especially in the offensive zone.
JORDAN LEOPOLD: Didn't look comfortable working the powerplay with Roman Hamrlik, as opposed to when he's alongside Robyn Regehr.
TONY AMONTE: Slowly finding his game with his new teammates. Didn't show his top speed.
STEPHANE YELLE: Penalty killing duties kept him busy but otherwise had a quiet game.
JAROME IGINLA: Scored with a rocket of a shot. Outplayed the inexperienced 'Hawks d-men down low.
SHEAN DONOVAN: Used his speed on his first couple of shifts but otherwise didn't have much of an impact.
CHRIS SIMON: Not much of note from the noted tough winger.
CHUCK KOBASEW: Displayed a quickness in his skating that hasn't been seen in the past.
DAYMOND LANGKOW: Rather quiet considering all the powerplay time he received.
MARCUS NILSON: Rather non-descript night for player whose forte doesn't include powerplay duty.
STEVE REINPRECHT: What a difference health makes. Crafty centre made things happen nearly every time he touched the puck and was team's best player.
BRANDON ROGERS: Even with the club down one d-man most of the game, didn't see much action.
RHETT WARRENER: Solid defensive game. Standard performance from the stay-at-home rearguard.
MARK GIORDANO: Fought the puck the first few times it came near him. Goal came from simply firing the puck on net from the far hash marks. Three-point night.
CAM CUNNING: Very limited ice time with all the special-teams play.
DAVID MOSS: Similar night as Cunning's.
WARREN PETERS: Hard hit on Adam Berti came from a good job on the backcheck.
STEVE BANCROFT: Night finished in the first period when he suffered a leg injury caused by blocking a slap shot.
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CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS: 5
CALGARY FLAMES: 4