SUN Hockey Pool

Wounded crew not in limbo with Lombo

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:39 AM ET

Opportunities are to be had.

It's just a matter of somebody stepping forward and seizing the moment.

Probably no Calgary Flame has done a better job than Matthew Lombardi amidst the turmoil of the recent rash of injuries.

Lombardi's late third-period goal to force overtime in Saturday night's 3-2 shootout victory over the Edmonton Oilers, was just continuation of a recent trend.

Lombardi is riding a stretch with eight points (4-4-8) in seven games while taking a bigger role with the likes of Rene Bourque and Daymond Langkow on the shelf.

"We're missing some top guys, it's kinda come all at once, and I think it's an opportunity for guys to step up," Lombardi said.

"We've got a team with a lot of depth and a lot of guys that can contribute, and I think we're fortunate that way.

"We've got guys coming up from the minors and those guys played well for us last game. We've just got to keep digging in, keep getting more from each guy."

Calgary will be looking for more of the same from the likes of Lombardi, Dustin Boyd, David Moss and players summoned from the minors, Jamie Lundmark and Kyle Greentree, when they face the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight. Actually, head coach Mike Keenan is expecting it.

"Every time there's a hardship for one man, it's an opportunity for another. The people given an opportunity have to take advantage," Keenan said. "It tests the depth of our organization and tests the development of some players that get more responsibility."

Lombardi falls into that category, and he's started to build consistent momentum in his game.

Consistency, moreover a lack of it, has been the big criticism of the speedy forward.

"He's been doing the things that make him a really good player," said right winger David Moss.

"He's been using his speed, shooting the puck. When you've got guys doing that, it's a recipe for solid play.

"As every game goes on, you can see him using his speed out there. When he's skating, shooting and going to the net, he's a dangerous player for us."

Curiously, Lombardi's stronger play comes at a time he's being watched closer.

His name is coming up time and time again in rumours as the March 4 NHL trade fast approaches.

Lombardi, who has netted nine goals and 28 points this season, insists he doesn't bother listening to them.


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