Lombardi shrugs off star status

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:25 AM ET

In typical Calgary Flames fashion, Matthew Lombardi deflected praise toward the team yesterday when asked about being the NHL's second star for his efforts last week.

"It's obviously a nice honour to be considered with those guys," Lombardi said of being sandwiched between stars Zach Parise of the New Jersey Devils and Atlanta Thrashers sniper Ilya Kovalchuk.

"The bottom line is we got some big wins there. Big contributions from a lot of guys. I think that's what's the important thing."

The team is stressing wins above all other stats and awards this season. Head coach Mike Keenan said they met last fall and addressed that concept, so it's no surprise to hear any of the men in the locker-room talk the same way as Lombardi any time they're asked about their own positive performances.

Keenan, however, was unafraid to let his happiness be known after Lombardi racked up seven points (three goals and four assists) in four games.

"I'm really happy for him, because he's put in some good time and effort and now he's getting some reward," Keenan said of the speedy 26-year-old centre.

"He's starting to pick it up offensively. That'll really develop his confidence, and if that happens, we're going to have a much better offensive production from Matthew going down the stretch as well."

Lombardi has had a decent year with eight goals and 27 points in 43 games. He struggled with injury early and missed 13 contests over the first couple of months, but has quietly picked up his game.

Especially noticeable are his contributions on the penalty kill -- he scored a shorthanded goal against the Montreal Canadiens last Monday -- and the way he's been driving the puck to the net recently.

"Yeah. I think that's part of the game-plan. We're trying to get as many pucks to the net -- shooting it, driving it, rebounds -- however we can get there," said Lombardi.


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