Chemistry 12-21

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:53 AM ET

The passing play happened so fast, it was almost too quick to know exactly what happened.

Thankfully, slow-motion replays helped sort it out.

During a pre-season contest, Jarome Iginla and Olli Jokinen teamed up for a highlight-reel tally.

The pair of Flames forwards were parked along the goal line on opposite sides of the offensive zone. Iginla banked a pass off the end boards right to his linemate.

In one motion, Jokinen caught the puck and fired a pass back, across the crease, right to Iginla. Before the defenders and the goalie could even fathom what happened, the Calgary captain had slipped the puck into the net.

Thus begins the debate: A lucky turn of events or a planned play.

"A set play? Is that what they're saying?" Craig Conroy asked. "If I see that play two or three times in the year, I'll think it's a set play. I think he shot it off the goalie and to Iggy.

"It's a fabrication."

The parties involved insist it worked out exactly how they drew it up.

"No, he made a great pass. It wasn't a fluke," Iginla said. "It came at me so fast, I was surprised.

"He'll try that pass again over the year. You'll see."

Flames faithful should be looking forward to that.

Fluky turn of events or planned play, it doesn't matter as long as the goals keep coming.

Jokinen and Iginla sure believe they will be able to implement ideas this season simply because they have time, unlike last year when Jokinen was acquired at the trade deadline and had to try integrating himself amidst the stretch drive.

"You get a training camp under you," Jokinen said. "It's definitely easier for me than when we played 20 games, or whatever it was. Those games helped, but now we have the practice time and can spend more time on the ice together.

"In practice, that's where you build the chemistry. In the games, you go there and it should happen automatically. That's the goal -- where you want to go as a line -- but you get to know your linemates in practice, and once the game situation comes, everybody knows automatically.

"I'm expecting big things from our line, and I think Iggy's feeling the same way."

The pair started with a bang upon Jokinen's arrival from Phoenix.

Calgary finally had nabbed that undisputed first-line centre, and the impact was immediate.

Jokinen collected eight goals and 10 points in his first six games wearing the Flaming C.

Iginla netted three goals and seven points in the half-dozen affairs.

However, they both struggled down the stretch -- Jokinen failed to score in the final 13 regular-season contests -- and never found high gear in the opening round playoff series loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.

Jokinen believes the few weeks of training camp and a full season together will make a big difference.

"It was kind of hectic. I think it's going to be a lot better this year than the end of last season," Jokinen said. "There's a lot of stuff Iggy does really, really well, so I have to find a way to play to his strengths. It's the same with him. He knows what I do well, and he's trying to adjust his game, too.

"I know where he wants the puck. I know what area he likes to be in the offensive zone. Things like that. It helps."

However, the debate remains whether Jokinen and Iginla will work since there is only one puck. Both are known more as shooters.

"I have, a couple of times, had 50 helpers in this league, so I don't know where that comes from," Jokinen said of that theory. "But you can't score without shooting the puck. A lot of times, a shot is the best pass and you have to read the game.

"If you have a good chance to shoot, you shoot. I think it makes it harder for the other team to defend if both of us are a threat to score.

"We both are smart enough to make the plays. If they're taking me out when I have the puck and Iggy's open, of course I'm going to pass to him. Like, if the defender goes on him and I have time to take my shot, I'm going to take my shot. It's the same way with him."

RANDY.SPORTAK@SUNMEDIA.CA\


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