SUN Hockey Pool

Jokinen solid in old haunts

Randy Sportak, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:54 AM ET

SUNRISE, FLA. - Olli Jokinen insisted it wasn’t a case of going to the place he called home for seven seasons, the city where he elevated his game to its peak.

Nor was it, the Calgary Flames centre stated, a product of wanting to make some amends for his mistake which led to the game-winning goal in overtime the night before in that 5-4 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

When all is said and done, Jokinen insists his performance against the Florida Panthers in his team’s 3-2 shootout loss — a goal and an assist — was just a case of playing to expectations on a nightly basis.

“I think I’ve been pretty solid over the whole year. I approach every game the same way, try to be the best I can. That’s all I can do,” Jokinen said.

To his credit, the player much maligned during his first stint with the Flames has been good of late, save for that defensive gaffe against the Lightning.

And he’s producing more.

Thanks to an eight-game spell in which he’s collected five goals and six assists, Jokinen has taken the team scoring lead.

He insists it’s from being a smarter defensive player than he was earlier in his career, but Jokinen had plenty of familiar faces on hand.

“A lot of friends, probably close to 30 people,” he said. “Other than that, I think there’s one player, one trainer and one medical left from when I was here. It’s been a big turnaround the last three years.”

IN THE CORNERS

Another awful start out of the gates for the Flames, not only by falling behind, but failing to get a second shot on goal for more than nine minutes. Hardly what a good team does for a goalie making his NHL debut ... How many fans in Calgary were booing their TVs in unison with the scores of Panthers fans jeering Jay Bouwmeester? Then again, maybe they were saying Bouwmeester ... It’s kinda strange they weren’t giving the same treatment to Jokinen. Then again, Jokinen was traded away with a contract, unlike Bouwmeester, who wouldn’t come to terms on a deal with unrestricted free-agency pending and was traded to the Flames right before the July 1 deadline ... For those wondering who the Panthers drafted with the third-round pick they received from Calgary in the Bouwmeester deal, it’s Josh Birkholz, a right-winger from the state of Minnesota, who left university to play with the WHL’s Everett Silvertips last season. In 30 games this season, the 6-foot-1, 182-lb. Birkholz has 13 goals and 28 points. Florida also had the services of Jordan Leopold for most of a season before being dealt to Pittsburgh for a second-round pick, used to take Connor Brickley ... Does Rene Bourque need another chat from Hockey Night in Canada’s Kelly Hrudey? That was a terribly lazy hooking penalty four minutes into the game.

OFF THE GLASS

Here’s a strange one: The Panthers dole out rats to fans — like the mini-footballs are flung at Stampeders games — but then warn those supporters they’ll be ejected for throwing them on the ice. That was the big tradition when they had their run to the Stanley Cup finals in 1996 ... Credit to Tim Jackman for his effort penalty killing after needing to go straight to the defensive zone when he was the first out while his team was defending a five-on-three. Jackman looked unsure where to be but blocked a shot and the puck deflected over the glass ... Nice way for Bourque to make amends for that penalty with that timely third-period powerplay goal. When he’s on his game, he can be a difference-maker ... Imagine that, the hang-on-for-dear-life defensive posture doesn’t work and the Panthers tie it up with less than five minutes left ... Let’s see, Jarome Iginla wants to fight Kris Versteeg in overtime. Wonder how much of it was Iginla realizing that’s the same Versteeg who yapped in his ear during that playoff series between the Flames and the Chicago Blackhawks a few years back?

 


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