Kobasew has been a hit

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 10:14 AM ET

Handed his prize, Chuck Kobasew laughed.

After yesterday's training session, the Calgary Flames right winger was given the reward for winning the team's pool for The Amazing Race reality TV series.

The trophy, a rubber boot on a wooden base, all painted silver, is certainly eye catching.

"I don't know what you'd call that," Kobasew said.

OK, apparently it won't be displayed in the old rec room with the same love as his first NHL goal.

Still, there's something symbolic about the honour.

Lately Kobasew has put on his work boots and delivered the sort of gritty efforts that result in more bruises than fanfare.

Case in point, he leads all Flames forwards in hits and he trails only defencemen Dion Phaneuf and Robyn Regehr for the overall team lead.

He was rewarded for all that dirty work with the game-winning tally Friday against the Columbus Blue Jackets, snapping a 16-game goal-less drought.

"I don't look at that stuff much," Kobasew said of his hit stats, "but I know it's something that has to be part of my game. Getting a couple of hits a night can make a difference.

"When you're throwing your body around or getting hit -- especially early in a game because it gets you into the game -- it makes me more effective."

Admit it, when pressed for who you believe leads the team's forward corps in hits, your immediate guess would be Jarome Iginla.

Or Byron Ritchie.

Or Darren McCarty.

"If you were to ask me," said Flames winger Tony Amonte, "I wouldn't know but I would have probably guessed (Kobasew) to be at the top of the list.

"He's been doing a lot of banging for us, getting in on the forecheck and using his speed. He covers a lot of ice for us."

And, fortunately, after a month-long wait, Kobasew finally lit the lamp, giving him three tallies on the season. During the drought, there were games he truly deserved a goal -- remember how he was by far the best player on the ice when the Flames dismantled Detroit? -- but there were none to be had.

Which was definitely disconcerting, even for head coach Jim Playfair.

"I was really concerned he wasn't scoring goals. That's a huge part of it for Chuck," Playfair said.

"Anybody who plays and competes really hard needs to feel they're contributing as well with goals. Chuck's a 20-goal scorer and we need him to be a 20-goal scorer."

Kobasew's linemates haven't had the same goal-scoring problems.

Matthew Lombardi is on pace to shatter his career highs in goals and points, while Kristian Huselius could potentially have a 30-goal season.

Kobasew is hoping it's now his turn to go on a goal-scoring roll.

"Matt and Kristian were scoring, so it wasn't like the line wasn't scoring -- and helping contribute is important," he said.

"Maybe I'll be scoring more and Matt will be picking up the assists."


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