Another game. Another Calgary Flames centre injured.
The club which is already without two of its top three men-in-the-middle, lost top-line pivot Olli Jokinen early in the second period of Tuesday’s 3-1 win over the Phoenix Coyotes, although head coach Brent Sutter said it was “nothing serious.”
“He’ll be fine,” Sutter said. “It’s mild and we didn’t want to mess with it.”
Jokinen, who has been skating with Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay, played just three shifts in the second frame. He was seen pointing at his back or side before going to the room.
He recorded one assist during 8:41 worth of ice and had three shots on goal.
Calgary is already without Daymond Langkow (neck) and Matt Stajan (shoulder), who are both expected to be on the sidelines when the season opens Oct. 7.
“I don’t know what it is about centres right now. Maybe they don’t want to go to Saskatoon,” said centre Craig Conroy, alluding to Wednesday night’s clash there against the New York Islanders.
Credit the Flames for overcoming the adversity, especially against a Coyotes lineup very close to what you’ll see when they open the season in Prague, Czech Republic.
Then again, it helps when you open the scoring just 17 seconds into a game, courtesy Iginla, who batted home a loose puck when Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov couldn’t handle Jokinen’s long offering.
Niklas Hagman and training camp rookie sensation T.J. Brodie also scored, his third of the pre-season.
Brodie’s parents Jay and Lynn were in attendance having made the trip from Ontario with his truck.
“I had to try and do something out there,” the defenceman said.
Television replays showed the puck actually went through the side of the net, but there are no video reviews in pre-season. From there, the Flames clamped down perfectly, helping goalie Henrik Karlsson to record the win with a 19-save outing.
Shane Doan replied for Phoenix.
Scoring goals, especially early, and posting a winning record on home ice is the goal this season. The Flames did just that. Iginla scored 17 seconds into the game, Hagman’s tally was just 80 seconds into the second and Brodie’s goal was just over five minutes into the third period.
What’s not to like? Other than the bad turnover by Jay Bouwmeester which led to the Coyotes first goal, the blueline brigade did a good job. Phoenix needed more than 12 minutes to record its first shot on goal in the third period.
Another solid performance for first-year NHLer Henrik Karlsson. The lanky netminder, pegged to be the backup in Calgary, wasn’t overly busy, but he stopped 19 of 20 shots. He’s allowed just two goals in five periods of pre-season action.
The powerplay left something to be desired by going 0-for-4 on the night. In fact, Calgary failed to even register a shot on goal with the three chances through the first two periods.
On the other hand, Calgary killed six Phoenix powerplays, including three in the opening period and three more in the final frame.