Young duo is paying dividends

TODD SAELHOF -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 4:14 PM ET


 One sports the cap of a franchise that moved well before his time.

 The other talks only of his team and nothing of his own feelings or puck endeavours in his rookie season.

 But last time somebody checked, Chuck Kobasew and Matthew Lombardi are still the two youngest Calgary Flames.

 It says so right there on the roster -- both a tender 22 years -- although you'd never know it by their performance in these NHL playoffs.

 "Not even close," said Kobasew with a smile when asked if he's feeling like a seasoned veteran after just nine career games of post-season action. "I'm still learning a lot about the playoffs and the way it goes. And that's been a lot of fun."

 Fun?

 Usually it's nerves and anxiety reserved for the raw playoff rookies, especially those still trying to establish themselves as an everyday regular-season player in the NHL.

 Remember, Kobasew was on the bubble to start the Flames campaign, while Lombardi gained an opportunity due to injuries at the club's centre position.

 "You play in these games and that's what makes it so much fun," said Kobasew, wearing a retro Atlanta Flames lid yesterday at the Saddledome. "It's also what gives you that experience.

 "It goes so fast," continued the native of Osoyoos, B.C. "But playing against a team in the first round that I grew up cheering for and going into Game 7 and into overtime against them was an experience that I try to draw from.

 "Now we're playing against a very skilled team and a lot of great players are on that team, so I'm taking the experiences one game at a time and using whatever I can every game."

 The league tried to credit Kobasew with his first playoff goal Saturday afternoon in Game 2 against the Detroit Red Wings. But the youngster admitted he didn't touch Martin Gelinas' centring pass and his veteran teammate was awarded the team's second goal.

 Nevertheless, Kobasew's effort is worth some reward in these playoffs. He's attempted to be a physical force in the corners and around the net.

 Meanwhile, fellow young gun Lombardi has a goal and five points to his credit. Not bad for his first nine games of playoff experience.

 "Right now, we're not worrying about how many games each guy has got," said Lombardi, doing a no-nonsense job of toeing the team's party line. "We're just trying to get ready as a team. When we're playing well, it's 20 guys and we're not looking at which guys have experience and which guys don't have experience. I think it's just each guy playing their game and playing our game as a team."

 Including the two youngest Flames -- whether they like to admit it or not.

 "I'm not really worrying about what's happening with me. It's not really a factor," Lombardi said. "We're talking about our team. If one guy's playing well, it doesn't matter. We've got to play well as a group if we're going to win. It's 20 guys going the same way and that's when we're going well."


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