Who's on first line?

Calgary Flames forwards Jarome Iginla (left) and Daymond Langkow skate at practice on Monday....

Calgary Flames forwards Jarome Iginla (left) and Daymond Langkow skate at practice on Monday. Langkow took Matthew Lombardi's spot at centre between Iginla and Alex Tanguay as the team continues its search for chemistry before the puck drops. (Calgary Sun/Jim Wells)

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 10:24 AM ET

A reunion of sorts took place yesterday.

There was Daymond Langkow on the Saddledome ice sporting the same red practice jersey as Jarome Iginla, his right-hand man a season ago.

With just three nights before the Calgary Flames open the regular season in Edmonton, their top line had a new filling.

Langkow took Matthew Lombardi's spot at centre between Iginla and Alex Tanguay as the team continues its search for chemistry before the puck drops Thursday night.

Lombardi, meanwhile, donned a yellow sweater along with Kristian Huselius and Tony Amonte.

This late in the game, it's not a matter of Langkow taking a turn at auditioning on the top line.

He was given occasional shifts with the unit during the pre-season road swing and head coach Jim Playfair said he's earned the billing.

"Nobody gets a 'turn' with those guys," said Playfair.

"When you look at it, Daymond Langkow has been our best (centre) in training camp. Daymond needs to step in there and do a solid job for us to make a top line. Matthew needs to find his way with his unit and give us the best 1-2 punch we can develop."

Early in camp, Playfair said his top centre would have to get dirty in the corners, digging out pucks as the first man into the offensive zone in order to fit in with Tanguay and Iginla.

The way Langkow has played this pre-season, chucking his body around and battling hard in traffic areas -- even throwing fists a couple of times against the Canucks -- that role could be just the cure for a No. 1 unit that hasn't lived up to its potential.

"I think it's just about finding chemistry on all the lines," said Iginla yesterday.

"We need balanced scoring here, that's what successful teams have ... I think we have that."

Langkow scored 25 goals last season while spending most of year alongside Iginla and a rotating cast of left-wingers. His total of 59 points was second to Iginla's 67 and Langkow boasts a defensive awareness most 60-point players can't list on their resume without stretching the truth.

But adding Tanguay to the mix as a potential full-time fixture on the left side adds an extra degree of excitement -- although the always-composed Langkow would rarely show it off the ice -- to the most potent pair of Flames last season.

Langkow has played with quality wingers before.

"In Philly, I had a chance to play with Mark Recchi and John LeClair, learned a lot from those guys," said Langkow. "(Iginla and Tanguay) are probably the most talented two players I've had a chance to play with so I'm looking forward to it."

Langkow was under the constant glow of the media spotlight last season thanks to the recurring storyline about whether the Flames had a true No. 1 centre. It's not an easy position for any player to be in, especially one who tends to shy away from the spotlight. Langkow knows any change in the middle will ultimately lead to his stall being swarmed.

He's willing to take on any role if it means another Northwest Division title and trip to the playoffs.

"If it works out, great," said Langkow. "If it doesn't, the main thing is that the team is doing well."


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