Jokinen remains humble

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:19 AM ET

LOS ANGELES -- During Olli Jokinen's early-season scoring slump, he and head coach Brent Sutter insisted goals and assists were secondary to the top-line centre evolving his game.

The quest was for Jokinen to become the well-rounded player the team needed.

Now, it would appear the package is coming together.

Heading into tonight's clash with the Los Angeles Kings, Jokinen is on his best stretch of the season.

In the five games so far on this trip, he's collected three goals and three assists, and he's been a point-per-game player over the last 14 games.

Don't expect him to gloat after facing so much criticism to start the season.

"All I care about is how many points we have in the standings," Jokinen said. "We've been winning.

"We're still not where we want to be, but we're going in the right direction. That's all that matters."

Jokinen has played a key part in the winning ways.

He's been as effective as any skater on the team during this road trip.

In the San Jose game, not only did he score the key tying goal, but he was part of the line -- which includes Jarome Iginla and Nigel Dawes -- as well as defence tandem of Dion Phaneuf and Robyn Regehr mainly used to shut down San Jose's top line.

The trio of Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Dany Heatley were held without a point for just the third time this season.

"The easiest way to shut down a team like that is to play in the other end," said defenceman Jay Bouwmeester.

"He scored a big goal off a rush, but they kept those guys out of our end, and they couldn't do much damage."

In essence, it was the exact game Sutter has been looking for from Jokinen.

"It's important to see he's being rewarded, to see, 'I can play this way and be rewarded, too.' You need that from him," Sutter said.

Bouwmeester said he believed it was just a matter of time before Jokinen started producing offensively.

"He's a talented guy, like Jarome. Sometimes, those guys will go through slumps and things like that.

"With him, it happened at the start of the year, but sometimes they get a break, score a big goal, and things start happening," Bouwmeester said.

"He's a talented guy, and that never really goes away."

ICE CHIPS

D Robyn Regehr only played a small part of the third period of Saturday's win over San Jose after being hit by Joe Thornton, but head coach Brent Sutter said the big blueliner will be OK for tonight's clash. "Robyn's going to be fine. It's nothing," Sutter said ... Even with the travel, Sutter said he plans to put goalie Miikka Kiprusoff between the pipes against the Kings ... While much was made of the job Calgary did on San Jose's top line, the Sharks, especially D Douglas Murray, did a job physically on Calgary's top players, especially Jarome Iginla. Teams have tended to use defencemen who rely on positioning to shut down Iginla, but Murray was bashing Iginla every chance he could. "I wasn't surprised to see it," Sutter said. "But I was pleased the way we responded to it. Not just how Jarome responded, but how the team responded."

RANDY.SPORTAK@SUNMEDIA.CA


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