SUN Hockey Pool

Right line combinations

Flames captain Jarome gets Iggy with it during practice on Tuesday. The Flames face Philly in their...

Flames captain Jarome gets Iggy with it during practice on Tuesday. The Flames face Philly in their home opener tonight. (Sun Media/Jim Wells)

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:48 AM ET

Get used to seeing a mixed bag when it comes to the line combinations for the Calgary Flames this season.

The players will have to familarize themselves with every option, too.

Like Darryl Sutter and Jim Playfair before him, new Flames head coach Mike Keenan will tap the shoulder of any forward at any time based on how he is playing on any given night.

So, while the top line for tonight's season-opener against the Philadelphia Flyers seems set with Craig Conroy flanked by left-winger Alex Tanguay and right-winger Jarome Iginla, there's no reason to believe Daymond Langkow or Kristian Huselius -- or both -- won't end up there by the final horn.

Huselius and Langkow practised with Owen Nolan on the right side yesterday, and it appears Nolan is healthy enough to make his regular-season debut.

"Most often, the best players get the most ice time if they've earned it. That's what you expect and that's what you should expect. That's what they should expect," said Keenan. "Based on that idea, the best players should play together, but if they're not living up to the standards that we expect, then other players will take their ice time."

There have been some strong past performances among those on the top two scoring lines, though, due to chemistry between Conroy and Iginla, as well as Langkow and Huselius. Tanguay was up to speed on his captain's tendencies by the end of the year, too, so there's every reason to believe Keenan's top players will act as such on a consistent basis.

"There's a lot of different combinations. We're very deep," said Iginla. "The skill level -- whatever line Juice (Huselius) is on, he's going to be a playmaker. Whatever line Tangs (Tanguay) is going to be on, he's going to be a playmaker."

Huselius admits he has had a special connection with Langkow, an underappreciated centre who had a big role in the Swede's career season a year ago.

"Right away when I came here, we kind of clicked," said Huselius. "That's one of the guys I've been playing well with. We have lots of chemistry out there. It's always nice and comfortable to know what the guy is supposed to do -- you're ahead of the play, pretty much.

"It's not easy to just click right away with everyone, it just happens with guys sometimes.


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