SUN Hockey Pool

Steven staying healthy

STEVE MacFARLANE -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:21 AM ET

Steven Reinprecht didn't score in last night's shootout but he wasn't about to blame the ice conditions.

"You know what, it's good. It's flat, it's smooth. It wasn't the ice's fault tonight I don't think," the Calgary Flames centre said before a brief pause. "It was the stick's."

Funny, that stick seemed to be working well during regulation time.

Reinprecht scored the game winner and was arguably the home team's best forward during last night's 4-2 pre-season victory over the Chicago Blackhawks at the Saddledome.

He created a handful of great offensive rushes and gave the near-capacity crowd a sample of what he can do when healthy.

The pre-season wasn't kind to the 6-ft. 190-pounder in 2003-04. Reinprecht cracked a bone in his shoulder -- which later required season-ending surgery -- in his only exhibition appearance.

Also suffering a broken ankle, Reinprecht wound up playing just 44 regular-season games for the Flames in the last NHL season.

"That was a tough one but it's (a new) year," he said last night. "I feel good."

The shoulder surgery kept Reinprecht from joining the Flames during their storybook run to the Stanley Cup final and the ending may have been a happier one had the playmaker been aboard.

Flames GM/head coach Darryl Sutter knows a healthy Reinprecht can make a difference.

"If you look at his numbers, you saw it, and he played with one arm all year," said Sutter.

It's hard to argue against Reinprecht's 29 points in 44 games. Another good sign is his performance in Europe last year.

Having fully healed from his injuries, Reinprecht scored 20 goals and 47 points in just 22 games with Mulhouse in France's top league. He added seven goals and 13 points in 10 playoff games.


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