SUN Hockey Pool

Giving it another go

Calgary Flames' Chuck Kobasew tangles with Edmonton Oilers' Ryan Smith last Saturday. Kobasew is...

Calgary Flames' Chuck Kobasew tangles with Edmonton Oilers' Ryan Smith last Saturday. Kobasew is now being paired up with Matthew Lombardi and Alex Tanguay to help spark the Flames. (Calgary Sun/Kevin Udahl)

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 10:36 AM ET

The big break-up this week of Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay was well documented.

Lost in the shuffle, however, was an important reunion on the Calgary Flames newly formed second line.

Tanguay is now part of a trio that includes right-winger Chuck Kobasew and centre Matthew Lombardi, a pair of close friends who have come up the hockey ranks together.

Both are in serious need of a spark this season.

Perhaps the chance to play together again -- along with the highly-skilled Tanguay -- will provide that needed boost.

"We know how we play and it's easy to talk to each other on the bench and get the point through," Lombardi said before departing Calgary for tonight's game in Ottawa (5:30 p.m., PPV) against the Senators.

"I've seen him at different levels and he scores at all of them. I know I'll find him because he'll be going to the net."

While much has been made of the Flames' big guns failing to make their mark early in the new campaign, the same can be said for the rest of the club, which has a mere four goals in three games.

High on that missing persons list is Kobasew, a 20-goal scorer last season who has no points and has been a non-factor through the first three tilts.

"The bottom line is we all have to get better. Myself, I haven't played near where I can and it's an opportunity," said Kobasew, who hasn't played more than 10 minutes in any game this season, mainly working on a line with checker Stephane Yelle.

"I've got to work harder and smarter and when you do that, things come. And also, you get bounces and things go your way."

Head coach Jim Playfair is putting the onus on the former first-round draft choice to make the most of this opportunity.

"We expect lots out of Chuck Kobasew. We expect more than he gave last year," he said. "We expect him to be a player that does a better job in his own zone along the boards and attacks the opposition's blueline with a lot more speed and goes to the net with reckless abandon.

"He has to bring that energy and that drive and competitiveness every single shift."

And if the new line clicks, it could give the whole team a spark.

The newly created trio certainly has the potential to make its breaks and create some much-needed offence, if, as Playfair points out, they utilize their attributes on the ice.

"It goes back to hunting down pucks, being a puck-pressure team and creating chances off that," Playfair explained. "When you look at the way Matthew can skate, Alex can pass the puck and Chuck's shot, they complement each other in the fact that when they work hard individually, and collectively, they have the potential to be a good line."

A substandard start to the season -- one victory in three outings -- has caused much hand-wringing.

And plenty of soul searching among the Flames, who are coming off a brutal performance during a 4-1 loss to San Jose.

"We're looking, as a team and individually, to get better," Lombardi said. "I think with each guy, myself included, there has been good and bad things out there we're doing, so we have to get better and bear down. If we play more as a group, things will happen.

"We'll get out of this as a team."

Certainly the pair of youngsters won't get a much better chance to do just that with the addition of Tanguay.

The prized summer acquisition hasn't found his step on a line with Iginla -- admittedly in part because he has tended to search too often for the captain -- but should benefit from having another couple of speedsters to go with.

It's a scenario that has new linemates charged.

"He has some of the best vision I've ever seen," Lombardi said.

"He sees guys and finds guys and has unbelievable hands.

"We just have to work together, all three guys not as individuals, and it could be good."


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