Iggy, Olli split up

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:30 AM ET

CHICAGO -- Craig Conroy remembers the night Jarome Iginla had last time they were on a line together.

"He had five points against Tampa," Conroy said. "So there is that confidence of 'Hey, we can get this thing going.' "

Something has to work because times have been tough for a while for Iginla.

Same thing goes for Olli Jokinen.

After seeing them struggle together for a month, Flames head coach Mike Keenan finally split up the floundering duo for last night's Game 2 match against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Jokinen had David Moss and Rene Bourque skating on his wings to start the NHL's Western Conference playoff clash.

Iginla and Conroy skated with Curtis Glencross.

Keenan said not to read much into those line combinations after the morning skate, but when asked what it meant for Iginla to be with the players known more for their checking abilities, he wryly replied: "He's on the checking line, which you've seen before."

Don't expect Iginla to suddenly become a Selke Trophy candidate, but it was high-time Keenan did something to try sparking his captain and Jokinen.

They went on a tear immediately upon Jokinen's addition at the trade deadline, but since then, it's been plenty of struggles.

Jokinen failed to score in the last 13 regular-season games after his torrid start with the Flames -- eight goals and 10 points in six contests.

Iginla's inconsistencies this season are well documented. He was also a non-factor in the series-opening 3-2 overtime loss Thursday.

"Those guys, they've been playing against the top checking line and the top defencemen, so this is a way to shake it up," Conroy said. "This lets Jokinen go one way and Iggy the other and make them have to make some tough decisions. This time of year, sometimes you've got to make a change."

Jokinen took the switch in stride.

"We want to change the lines, want to try a different combination," Jokinen said before the game. "You can always go back to the old form. Now, we'll see how they react and who they're going to play against. If you look around, I think all four lines can score and we have physical players on each line.

"It's no big deal. In the game, there's a lot of line changes and special teams.

"It's all good."

Certainly skating with Conroy and Glencross puts more speed on Iginla's line, not that Jokinen and Bourque are lead-footed.

The Blackhawks' best defence pair of Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook have been keying on Iginla's line, so the hope is Jokinen's trio will have a different pair of bluleiners to face.

Either way, the Flames need to figure out a way to make the top Hawks blueliners minus players.

"If we're against Keith and Seabrook, they're quick on the puck, so if we're quick on the forecheck, we create a little havoc," Conroy said. "We need to finish checks, be fast and be aggressive. If we are, we're going to have opportunities to score goals."

The Flames have to hope Conroy and Iginla can recapture past magic.

"It seems whenever we play together, good things happen," Conroy said. "For whatever reason, we're able to score goals. I probably pass to him too much, but he doesn't mind shooting."

SARICH RETURNS

D Cory Sarich returned after missing the last seven games due to a broken foot suffered when he blocked a shot. He was in the lineup in place of D Anders Eriksson.

RANDY.SPORTAK@SUNMEDIA.CA


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