SUN Hockey Pool

Plugger Peters earns checkmarks

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:47 AM ET

Oh sure, it's a small case study. Yet it may just be worth investigating further.

In both of the last two pre-season games, Calgary Flames hopeful Warren Peters has managed a feat coaches want to see.

As games carry on, and the momentum and intensity builds, Peters has improved.

Against the Edmonton Oilers Saturday and the Vancouver Canucks a few days earlier, he was more noticeable in the third period than in the first frame, catching attention with his willingness to forecheck and pound the corners.

"That can be a pro, and it can be a con, too," Peters said.

"I think I get into the flow of the game, build momentum when the ball starts rolling. It also depends on the game and how it's going. If there is any flow or a lot of penalties, it can have an effect.

"Usually in the first period, there seems to be a lot of odd-man situations for either team, so the flow comes to a halt.

"We had some good shifts at the end of the last game, (Wayne) Primeau and Gods (Eric Godard) had a good game, so we were able to get on the forecheck."

Peters, the 25-year-old centre from Saskatoon, may be downplaying that trend in his game, but it's worth noting hockey's history is filled with players who fade after strong first periods -- overwhelmed when the intensity builds.

He officially recorded three hits against the Oilers, the biggest near the end when he smashed Marc Pouliot.

"You have to play to your strengths, and it's something that's been part of my game for a while, and I have to continue doing it," said Peters, who the organization signed in the spring of 2005. "Part of my role and responsibilities is to go out there and be physical."

When training camp opened and all the pundits began predicting who'd claim a roster spot, Peters' name wasn't mentioned, coming off a 17-goal, 33-point season in the minors. Yet, here he is among the final half-dozen hopefuls, long after the likes of Eric Nystrom and Cam Cunning were sent down to the AHL's Quad City Flames.

Peters is still likely a long shot, but he's still around. Plus, head coach Mike Keenan has shown he's willing to give an unheralded player a chance.

With four games remaining in the exhibition slate, starting tonight against the San Jose Sharks, the stakes are higher.

As teams play more and more proven NHLers, it becomes harder and harder for a hopeful to keep up.

"The players have to improve this week, for sure. That's our expectation, to get better," Keenan said. "It's not just getting better this week to be prepared for the opener. You have to get better every day, and then when you have the opener, get better the next."


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