Trio stands up to be counted

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:25 AM ET

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The top line captured the glory but another trio showed promise for the Calgary Flames Sunday night.

Chris Simon, Matthew Lombardi and Chuck Kobasew are one of the most recent combinations on the mix-and-match Flames bench. The numbers on their backs are sequential and, when you think about it, their collection of different skills add up.

Lombardi and Kobasew have the speed and skill to carry the puck with confidence into enemy territory. Simon may not share their foot speed but his presence allows the youngsters more room to operate as the big man throws his body around and works near the net.

During Sunday's Flames' 3-2 win over the Minnesota Wild, the trio cycled well along the boards and managed to create a few great scoring chances as a result.

Although the only goals came from top forwards Kristian Huselius, Jarome Iginla and Daymond Langkow, you get the feeling Nos. 17, 18 and 19 are on the brink of a point explosion.

"We're getting used to each other," said right-winger Kobasew after practice yesterday. "Now we've just got to start bearing goals.

"Every line is expected to produce. Every line's got skill on it and is capable of helping the team win that way. That's expected from every line."

The trio started on a high note in Edmonton during the first of a seven-game road trip.

Lombardi scored his fifth of the season, taking a pass from Simon after Kobasew kick-started the series along the boards.

Lombardi knows those kinds of plays could become the line's trademark.

"We know as a line, that'll be our bread and butter," said Lombardi. "We'll be able to create a lot of chances that way and take pucks to the net.

"We're getting those pucks deep. Si's been playing real well and Chuckie has been, too. With a big guy like Si, that's where he's going to create a lot of stuff."

The big guy is no stranger to battling in tight quarters and Simon agrees that will be key to their success.

"We've been talking about certain plays we're going to use in the games. We use the back of the net, use the boards on the forecheck," said Simon. "To penetrate, we're going to use me along the wall, picking up pucks. I can make plays. I can pass the puck."

Simon has enjoyed some productive spurts this season playing with Shean Donovan, and Jason Wiemer or Stephane Yelle as his centre, but this could be his best opportunity to shine alongside some gifted offensive young players.

"They're two great players for me to play with," said Simon. "Both have a lot of speed, a lot of skill. We're trying to use what each other has and put it all together."


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