December 31, 2011
Olli, that's a lot of games for Flames centre
By STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency
OTTAWA - Olli Jokinen wants the win more than anything, but his next game, Sunday in Nashville against the Predators, carries more than a couple of potential points.
Itíll be the Calgary Flames centreís 1,000th NHL game.
But as the 33-year-old creeps closer to the end of his career, thereís only one thing on his mind.
ďItís a number. Itís a nice milestone, but at the end of the day, the one thing you play for is winning the Stanley Cup. Thatís it,Ē Jokinen said of his impending silver stick presentation.
ďI was 18 playing my first game and able to stay healthy. Iíve been able to play and stay in the game.
ďI still think Iíve got a lot of years ahead of me.Ē
AGAINST THE GLASS
Things look fairly bleak for the Flamesí most surprising blueliner this season. Derek Smith was sent home to Calgary after suffering an undisclosed lower-body injury Thursday night against the New York Islanders. He buckled while attempting to slide in front of a shot and twisted his leg awkwardly.
He needed assistance getting off, favouring his right leg. The team will provide an update once heís evaluated by their doctors further. If itís a high ankle sprain, as some were speculating Thursday, Smith could miss anywhere from six weeks to a couple of months ... In Smithís place, D Anton Babchuk made his first start since breaking his hand Nov. 8. Babchuk earned his fourth assist of the year on a first-period powerplay goal by Chris Butler ... Butlerís long wrister from the point led to his first marker in a Flames uniform.
IN THE CREASE
Netminder Leland Irving has been an incredible story so far this season, making three straight Friday night starts on the road and looking pretty solid in all of them. It would be an even bigger story if the Flames didnít have an elite incumbent starter in Miikka Kiprusoff, but itís nice to know there is a legitimate prospect waiting in the wings ... Spotted Friday in the lobby of a Holiday Inn in Kanata ó a Saginaw Spirit OHL jersey with Flames blueliner T.J. Brodieís name stitched on the back ... It was a homecoming for rookie Flames forward Paul Byron, who had plenty of friends and family in the stands. The 22-year-old was born and raised in Ottawa. He scored his first NHL goal with the Buffalo Sabres against the Sens at Scotiabank Place last season on Jan. 25 ... Still looking for goals 499 and 500, Jarome Iginla blasted a couple of shots at Craig Anderson just seconds apart in the third period that the Sens netminder had to be quick to react to.
Head coach Brent Sutterís next win will be his 100th guiding the Flames ... Babchukís assist was his 100th NHL point ... With three goals against Alex Auld in the first period, the Senators had to trot out Anderson. The plan was to give their starter some rest with three games in four nights, but the Flames spoiled that idea ... D Cory Sarich has been playing with a lot of pep lately, trying to keep hold of his spot in the lineup. He made a big block on a Sergei Gonchar shot and had to walk off the pain, then later got sent Erik Condra flying getting in his way in the neutral zone (he took an interference penalty for that one).