Smyth close to coming back

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:02 AM ET

CALGARY -- Brace yourself for Ryan Smyth's return. He is.

The wounded Oilers winger test drove his new knee brace yesterday, skating with his teammates for the first time since spraining his knee in the second game of the season, and will be back a lot sooner than the four weeks originally feared.

"It could be as early as tonight and as late as next week sometime," said head coach Craig MacTavish. "He's come along, he's doing all right."

Smyth went hard in the morning skate and says the knee held up really well.

"You can ride the bike and do all the stuff in the weight room, but it's not like skating," he said.

"So that was me getting ready for game shape and to see how it feels.

"I've had a little bit of tweakage here and there, but by and large no pain, which is a great sign for this type of injury. It's only been 12 days I think, so I'm pleased."

It'll basically be up to Smyth when he's ready to come back, which means it won't be very long.

"It's something we talk about in the back," he said. "We discuss different issues and different scenarios, like how comfortable and how confident I feel. It comes down to me making the final, final decision, but it's nice to hear other comments, especially Kenny (Lowe, head trainer) and the coaching staff."

SLOW BURN FOR FLAME: You can set your calander by Jarome Iginla's slow starts.

This season is no different.

The Flames captain managed just two goals and two assists in his first seven games -- and with the Flames labouring below the .500 mark, he's starting to feel the pressure.

"I've got to be better and I will be, I believe that," he said. "I haven't scored as many goals or points to contribute to the team's wins as I'd like, but it's going to get better."

Assistant coach Jim Playfair has seen enough of Iginla to worry about any October slow dry spells.

"Every year at this time he gets questioned and at the end of every year we're talking about what a great season he had," said Playfair. "You have to be big picture oriented with Jarome."


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