SUN Hockey Pool

Langkow's injury has winger looking to leave his Mark

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:33 AM ET

Daymond Langkow's concussion has put a hole in the Flames roster.

Mark Smith is looking to be the one to fill it.

With Langkow on the shelf, Matthew Lombardi was promoted to playing centre on a line with Kristian Huselius and Owen Nolan when the Flames played the Oilers last night.

And Smith, the little used utility forward who joined the team late in training camp is the first benefactor, starting the game on the third unit with Eric Nystrom and David Moss flanking him on the wings.

"Unfortunately with hockey, that's how opportunities happen," Smith said yesterday after a morning meeting. "If I am playing centre, I'm comfortable there -- I grew up playing centre and am a natural centre -- so it's an opportunity you don't want to waste.

"If you're gonna get some ice time, you want to show what you can do. I've just got to be ready for that opportunity."

Certainly he's been chomping at the bit.

Last game, Smith returned to the lineup after being a healthy scratch for the three previous clashes, and saw a bigger role because Langkow was injured halfway through it.

It was the first time in more than two weeks he played more than five minutes in a game.

"You get a couple of shifts and sit on the bench for 20-25 minutes, it's hard," said Smith, who saw more than eight minutes of action against the Canucks. "You get out there again and your legs feel cement, but that's your job and what they have you here to do, so you have to be ready for those opportunities."

The soon-to-be 30-year-old product of Eyebrow, Sask., has been biding his time all season for the chance he received last night, a regular shift with more than fourth-line ice-time.

"I'm used to being a little transitional, so whatever I'm playing, wing or centre, I'm looking forward to it," said Smith, who went into last night's game with one assist in 11 games.

"It seems in my career I've been biding my time more than I would have liked, but whether it's now or before doesn't really matter. What matters if you're prepared and used that time to be a factor."

Because of his late arrival to the Flames, it's taken a while for Smith to feel totally comfortable.

After several seasons in the San Jose Sharks organization, and more than 300 NHL games, Smith wasn't offered a contract last summer. He spent a few weeks in the New York Rangers camp, but was released.

He came to the Flames just in time for their last pre-season game and has worked to find a place.

"It took me a little while to figure out what my role and my responsibilities -- what they were looking for me to do with this team," he admitted. "In San Jose, I played a lot of different roles and was more of a transitional guy, could play a lot of different positions. I'm starting to feel a lot more comfortable in what they want me to do out there."


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