Olli Jokinen is adamant it’s no big deal to face his old team.
Even though the Calgary Flames forward is the all-time leading scorer for the Florida Panthers and he went from potential early-draft bust to a star, point-per-game player over his seven seasons with the club, Jokinen is doing his best not to concern himself with who provides the opposition for Thursday night’s clash at the Saddledome.
He has much bigger concerns.
He and linemates Alex Tanguay and Jarome Iginla have all failed to score a point in the firs two outings this season.
It’s not a disaster or time to call the trio a failure yet, but that lack of production won’t quiet the critics who panned the organization for bringing back Jokinen and Tanguay to ignite the club’s stagnant offensive attack.
“Tangs told me a couple of games ago, you need 60 good games to get 100 points. We can still have 20 games off. I don’t know if you guys have patience for that,” Jokinen said with a grin. “It was a big win for us last game, we played a lot better as a team than we did in the first game. As a line, we made some good plays and had chances to score, but overall, you have to look at the big picture.
“I know you guys love stats more than anything else, who’s got more goals, and it’s no secret we want to score every night. But, at the end of the day, all that matters is we get points. We want to help our team chip in.
“It would be nice to score, but as long as we win, that’s all that matters.”
That said, the Flames’ chances of winning often enough to actually return to the post-season rely heavily on that No.-1 trio.
They’ve combined for 22 shots in the first two games — the opening 4-0 loss to the Edmonton Oilers and then the 3-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings — but no goals, no assists.
“If we didn’t have those shots, it would be a different story,” Jokinen said. “We’d be a lot more nervous. We’re confident the goals will come. I had a chance on a two-on-one with Iggy. Iggy had a great chance there in the second period, he got the puck for a one-timer in the slot when Alex passed him, but the puck bounced.
“Both games, we feel we haven’t played as well as we can as a line as we’d like, but in those games we had four or five chances to put the puck in.
“The chances are there and the better we get, the more chances we’re going to get.”
Head coach Brent Sutter said early in training camp he would give the trio the time they need to make it work.
“You’ve got to be more than a one-line team and I’m not in a situation after Game 2 where I’m panicking over it at all. But I also know we need production from our top guys,” he said. “As long as they continue to push through, to work on things to make it happen, and they’re doing that in practices.
“It’ll sort itself out.”
Jokinen remains upbeat and focused, as are his linemates, he said.
“We’ve been doing good things in the practice the last two days and we’re positive. Last year, maybe that wasn’t the case. We were getting a little bit too frustrated when things weren’t going our ways,” he said. “As long as we work hard and we stay patient. It would be nice to score so you guys could relax, too.”