Flames hoping to re-ignite offence

STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:15 PM ET

It was a familiar first line, despite the fact the three had never played together.

The Calgary Flames are hoping reuniting Jarome Iginla with former linemates Alex Tanguay and Olli Jokinen can re-ignite an offence that ranked second-last in the NHL last season.

"I think we can be a very good line," Iginla said Saturday after their first on-ice session of training camp. "I was excited to come and see that we were starting together.

"I know it's only the first day, but it was nice to skate alongside both of them."

Tanguay played with Iginla for the better part of two seasons, racking up nearly 100 assists with the Flames from 2006-2008.

Jokinen was less successful during his time alongside the Flames captain but should become another triggerman for Tanguay instead of making the same mistakes he did during parts of two Flames seasons when the big Finnish centre tried too hard to set Iginla up with the puck.

The notion of having two shooters on the top line worked well when Michael Cammalleri was in town. He scored 39 goals, while Iginla potted 35 and both were point-per-game players.

"We're all gonna be very driven," said Iginla.

"We scored a couple of nice goals out there today. It's a starting point," added Jokinen.

"I'm gonna be the guy most of the time that goes to the net. I think that way we're going to score a lot more goals as a team."

That leaves Tanguay as the obvious playmaker. The gifted passer who is expected to help Jokinen and Iginla find a chemistry they couldn't the last couple of years.

Not that the five-time 20-goal scorer can't light his fair share of red lamps this season.

"It's not like he hasn't scored in this league," Jokinen said of Tanguay. "I think the strength of the line is we can all score."

Jokinen was guilty of trying too hard to set Iginla up, and Tanguay was criticized in his first foray as a Flame for not shooting enough. Both say they've learned their lesson.

"If I can get it to the net myself, sorry Igs and Olli, but I'm trying to score too," Tanguay said with a laugh. "You have to be selfish in a kind of way that will help the team.

"If you have the shot, you have to take it."

Many expected the trio to play together this season, and head coach Brent Sutter says he'll keep the line as is to work out any kinks.

"We've got some line combinations going and we want them to stay together," Sutter said. "They've got time to sort through some things, and let's see what happens."

So get those nicknames ready.

With all three sporting shaved heads, early favourites include The Skulls and The Triplets.

The latter might work best if they somehow discover a sixth sense for each other on the ice.

"I don't think you can really force chemistry," Iginla said.

"I think it's just the styles that you play and how that unfolds in a line and balances out."

With any luck, Tanguay will the the one that tips the scale in their favour.

steve.macfarlane@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/MacfarlaneSteve


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