Veteran has been Primeau on the penalty kill this year

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:55 AM ET

Facing a former squad is old hat for Wayne Primeau.

The Calgary Flames forward skated for five other NHL teams before coming to the Stampede City.

"Yeah, thanks for reminding me," he said with a grin before going on the offensive. "It's not a big number nowadays. Look at Bert (Todd Bertuzzi), he's got six or seven. Oakie (Adrian Aucoin) has to have five.

"I have some buddies over there, guys I've played with, but it's been a few years. This is the third season."

For the record, Bertuzzi has only five former teams. Aucoin has four.

More importantly for Primeau as he and the Flames prepare to face the Boston Bruins tonight is how he's playing in anticipation of meeting his old team.

Primeau -- acquired with the now-departed Brad Stuart and a fourth-round draft choice (T.J. Brodie) for Chuck Kobasew and Andrew Ference in February 2007 -- has arguably been at his best since arriving in Calgary.

It's not that he's putting up big offensive numbers, having collected three assists in eight games, but more in how he's become the lynchpin on the fourth line and handling penalty killing duties.

"I feel good," he said after yesterday's practice at the Saddldeome. "I felt great through exhibition and started off slow in the regular season, ice-time wise, but that's picked up. And when you're winning, it makes things easier as far as personal performance. It's more enjoyable coming to the rink.

"I felt the last 20 games last season, things were starting to come around. I started out slow last year with that injury and it took some time getting back into it, but as the season progressed, things seemed to come around."

Primeau will never be the scoring force his older brother Keith was during his career. In 699 NHL regular-season contests, the Flames forward has netted 66 goals and 119 assists.

But his contribution last season was disappointing. An early season high-ankle sprain put him on the shelf for 25 games. It took a couple of months for him to find his groove, and by then, the playoffs were looming.

Not exactly the way he wanted his first full season in Calgary to go, knowing full well fans were not happy about the trade that never panned out since Stuart left after the 2006-07 season as a free-agent, while Kobasew scored 22 goals for Boston and Ference has become a catalyst on the Bruins blueline.

"That was one of the worst injuries I'd endured," he said. "Five weeks after that happened, my foot was still swollen. I remember talking to Steph and Lombo (linemates Stephane Yelle and Matthew Lombardi) because they both had ankle injuries and they both said that one day I'd wake up and the swelling would be gone. Thank goodness it did and, knock on wood, I haven't had any problems since."

Rejuvenated and feeling healthy, Primeau has showed his value most on the penalty kill. That may seem like a small contribution, but Primeau, who has logged the most shorthanded minutes among the club's forwards, is a big part of the improved PK this season. In fact, Calgary has surrendered only one powerplay goal in its last five contests.

"That's something I look forward to. Being a defensive player and playing on the penalty kill, it's big to be logging those minutes," he said. "The team is relying on us to get it done."


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