SUN Hockey Pool

Bell sounds on flu-bug fight

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 6:34 AM ET

The vaccine is different, and so is the level of concern.

But the procedure for the Flames to protect themselves from H1N1 is no different than the seasonal flu.

"It's no different now than any other year. It's all part of it," head coach Brent Sutter said yesterday after the team practised at Westside Rec Centre.

"It's how you look after yourself. It's monitored very closely inside.

"We try to keep the guys as healthy as we can. We know there's bugs out there, but you can't really do much about it."

What they do is isolate people who are ill -- Dustin Boyd has been off the ice and away from the team for three days -- wash their hands and avoid sharing things like water bottles.

"All the same things everybody does," said Jarome Iginla, who admits there is more concern on the part of players this season thanks to the H1N1 strain that reportedly took Colorado Avalanche backup goaltender Peter Budaj out of the lineup ahead of tonight's game against the Flames at the Saddledome.

"We have all the same concerns as everyone else," Iginla said. "You see all the vaccinations and everything and the recommendations to get it, so when it comes available, I imagine a big portion of us will get it."

As for Boyd, he's "showing signs of improvement," according to Sutter.

"He's getting a little better."

SACCO SURPRISING ALL

Pundits would have predicted Joe Sacco the first coach fired before they'd have picked him to be an early candidate for coach of the year.

Sacco's Colorado Avalanche got off to an 9-1-2 start after last night's win in Edmonton.

"They're playing well. Look at their record," Flames captain Jarome Iginla said.

"Top of the division -- that's where we wanna be.

"We're looking forward to the game."

Goalie Craig Anderson has been incredible so far but might be forced to play back-to-back nights with Peter Budaj reportedly suffering from H1N1.

Flames coach Brent Sutter says the goalie has been good but the entire Avalanche team has been playing well in front of him.

"They're a very strong, structured team in how they're playing, and they're doing it consistently," Sutter said.

"They've got lots of skill up front. They're a quick team."

DION-ROBYN CLICKING NOW

Early in the season, it appeared the experiment failed for a second time.

Pairing Dion Phaneuf and Robyn Regehr seemed like a given a few years back, but the chemistry wasn't there and they were quickly separated.

Starting this year with a combined minus-12 through the first seven games, it looked like their time together might be up.

But they've rebounded with a total of plus-12 through the last three contests, with two goals and six points between them, as well.

Regehr has a three-game assist streak and five helpers on the season so far. His career-best point total was 26 in 2005-06, and he had just eight assists last season.

"I don't know what's going on," Regehr joked when his point production was mentioned. "You know what? My brother didn't take me in the pool, for once. So now, I'm showing him."

And Phaneuf is showing people he can play in his own end as well as put up offensive numbers. The two are complementing each other on the ice because they are talking off of it.

"Dion and I, we've continued to talk about things that we can both get better at and help one another," Regehr said. "We need to continue to do that."

STEVE.MACFARLANE@SUNMEDIA.CA

WHO TO WATCH

KEEP YOUR EYES ON THESE TWO PLAYERS IN TONIGHT'S GAME

OLLI JOKINEN, C

The struggling centre has scored five goals in 15 career games against Colorado and could use one now. While most everyone else on the team has made an offensive impact in at least one game, Jokinen has managed only one goal this season.

CRAIG ANDERSON, G

A Flames draft choice in 1999 -- he didn't sign and went back into the draft -- Anderson has finally been given his chance to be a No.-1 goalie and flourished. He's already set a Quebec/Colorado franchise record for wins in October with eight.


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