SUN Hockey Pool

Flames fall short again

STEVE MACFARLANE, CALGARY SUN

, Last Updated: 9:04 AM ET

SAN JOSE -- Mike Keenan started his day wondering what Mark Smith was all about.

He might still be wondering.

Meanwhile, the Calgary Flames head coach has to be curious about what his team will look like in the regular-season after limping out of the exhibition schedule with a 2-1 loss to the Sharks in San Jose.

The score could have been uglier had it not been for Curtis McElhinney's strong showing between the pipes. He didn't have much of a chance to stop Ryan Clowe's one-timer set up by Joe Pavelski late in the first period. Patrick Marleau made it 2-0 early in the second, sniping Joe Thornton's rebound into the net on a bad angle.

Craig Conroy cut into the lead with a breakaway goal in the third period and the Flames had another waved off because of a high stick.

Smith signed a one-year deal worth nearly $500,000 with the Flames Friday and suited up for his debut in the city in which he spent six seasons.

"It's weird coming to the rink and going to the other side," said the stocky 29-year-old Smith earlier in the day. "But I can't think of a better place to start it off. I'm excited to play all my old teammates and give them a hard time."

It may have been a classic case of trying to do too much and being unable to do anything because of it, but Smith didn't make much of a first impression.

Yesterday morning, Keenan admitted he had no clue what Smith would bring.

"I don't know a thing about him," Keenan said. "I don't know how I'm going to use him."

Keenan had seen all his other prospects over the course of the pre-season while slowly whittling down the Flames numbers. With none of the prospects impressing enough to ensure a spot of their own, general manager Darryl Sutter felt it necessary to add another body to the mix.

Sutter helped mould Smith as a head coach in San Jose after the 5-ft.-10, 205-lb. Eyebrow, Sask., product was drafted 219th overall in the ninth round of the 1997 NHL draft.

He played every role imaginable with the Sharks.

Fans in Calgary will be hoping to see the real Smith sooner than later, just as they're keeping their fingers crossed the Flames' pre-season record of 1-5-2 is not a real reflection of what the team's capable of.


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