SUN Hockey Pool

Eric's been great

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:23 AM ET

Brent Sutter has known Eric Nystrom for a long time.

A former teammate of Nystrom's father Bob, the Calgary Flames head coach was around when his now fourth-line centre took his first strides.

"I remember Eric was a little tyke and he used to go out on the ice skating," Sutter said. "Back then, guys would bring their kids down for the pre-game skates and after, the kids would go on the ice. Bob had Eric down at the rink all the time. He was a little redheaded kid back then. It's kind of neat to have seen him back then."

Bob Nystrom was known as rugged, hard-working player, who spent parts of 14 seasons with the New York Islanders, winning four Stanley Cups.

Eric, 26, was the Flames' first pick - 10th overall - in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft.

"They're different types of players," said Sutter. "Eric is a different type of skater than his dad and he doesn't have the long blond hair that Bob had. But they're both hard-working, committed players, very well-liked and very respected in the dressing room."

Nystrom is currently in his third year with the Flames.

On Thursday, he appeared to have scored his first career hat trick in a 4-3 win over the Montreal Canadiens.

But even as the hats rained down on ice at the Pengrowth Saddledome, Nystrom knew the third goal wasn't his.

"You can just tell when the puck hits your stick or not," said Nystrom.

"It hit the defenceman right in front of me, but it looked like I tipped it. It went on to go right over my stick and it ended up being a perfect deflection. If it hit my stick, it might not have even gone in, so I was pretty happy about that."

Nystrom scored the Flames' opening goal of the contest, snapping a shot over the shoulder of goaltender Jaroslav Halak in the first period.

He then got a piece of Adam Pardy's point shot in the second which beat Halak. Later, his apparent hat-trick goal was awarded to Staffan Kron-wall after the game.

"I knew it wasn't mine," Nystrom said. "But it was still a thrill for the fans to get a chance to throw the hats.

"But I want to see them come down for maybe a real hat trick, one that's legit."

Regardless, Nystrom has found a home on the fourth line alongside Fredrik Sjostrom and Brandon Prust. The unit has been very effective early in the season.

"He's showed progress through training camp and through the first three games, he's certainly gotten better," said Sutter prior to last night's contest when the trio was together again.

"He had a good game the other night, not just with the goals, but I thought the details to his game was probably the strongest game that he's had."

Said Nystrom: "So far I've felt great, I felt like I've had a lot of jump in my legs and our line has been finding some pretty good chemistry early on, so it's been a good start."

DEREK.VANDIEST@SUNMEDIA.CA


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