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Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Flames lines click in win over Kings

Flames forward Matthew Lombardi's return from a shoulder injury Saturday has led to a productive line shakeup, for now at least.

After starting on the fourth line, Lombardi moved up to the second line with Michael Cammalleri and Rene Bourque during Saturday's 5-2 loss to Detroit.

Lombardi was back with Cammalleri again Tuesday night, but this time on the top line with captain Jarome Iginla in Calgary's 6-2 victory over Los Angeles. And after Cammalleri's goal on eight shots, Iginla's goal and an assist and Lombardi's two assists, this top trio should be intact Thursday at Vancouver, and perhaps longer.

Calgary fans have been waiting for Lombardi to break out since 2006-07, when he set career highs of 20 goals, 46 points and plus-10 and followed that up by scoring a club-high 12 points in nine games while helping Team Canada win gold at the world championships.

Lombardi had a disappointing 14 goals, 36 points and a minus-6 last season. Then again, he didn't have Rick Nash and Shane Doan on his wings like he did in Russia at the worlds. The knock has been that his hands don't match his blazing speed, but he has by no means peaked at 26. We'll have to see if he makes the most of this opportunity and can improve upon the goal and three assists he has in nine games.

Lombardi's line wasn't the most productive unit for Calgary on Tuesday night. The third line of Bourque, Craig Conroy and Curtis Glencross combined for three goals, five assists and a plus-7.

It was Glencross' second consecutive multipoint game and his goal and two assists against the Kings give him four goals, nine assists and a plus-3 on the season. Conroy has three goals, nine assists and a minus-2, and Bourque's two-goal game gives him six goals, six assists and a plus-4.

Glencross, Conroy and Bourque are pretty even in points through 22 games, but Bourque's 35 penalty minutes and 56 shots understandably make him a more popular fantasy player (owned in 3.1 percent of ESPN leagues). Bourque and Glencross bear consideration in deep leagues, but they are streaky and haven't produced much in their limited time on the power play.

The second line of Daymond Langkow, Todd Bertuzzi and Dustin Boyd haven't kept pace, however. Boyd was hurt in a second-period collision and didn't return, but Bertuzzi's ice time of 15:26 was almost five minutes less than his season average, and Langkow, usually the team's No. 1 center, saw his ice time drop almost two minutes to 16:49.

Both are still getting power-play time, but Bertuzzi has gone 10 games without a goal, and Langkow has one goal and three assists in his past eight games.

Ice chips

Chris Mason
Chris Mason was pelted with shots by his old teammates, but he withstood the challenge.
Calgary's outburst caused an early exit for Kings goalie Erik Ersberg in his 10th consecutive start. Ersberg stopped 14 of 18 shots before he was yanked midway through the second period and replaced by Jason LaBarbera, who made 15 saves. Ersberg had gone 5-2-2 with a 2.08 goals-against average and .911 save percentage in his previous nine games. … Blues goalie Chris Mason had the most impressive performance in the nets, stopping 47 shots in St. Louis' 1-0 shootout victory over his former team, Nashville. Mason also stopped both shots he faced in the shootout. … Predators goalie Dan Ellis was far less busy (17 shots) but also is credited with a shutout. … Forward Thomas Steen and defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo, who were acquired Monday from the Maple Leafs, will not play for the Blues until Saturday against the Oilers. … Thrashers star Ilya Kovalchuk was an assist short of the Gordie Howe hat trick after he had a fight with Leafs defenseman Ian White to go along with a goal in Atlanta's 6-3 victory over Toronto. … Atlanta forward Slava Kozlov's two assists boosted his points total to a team-leading 19 in 20 games, but he's still available in 40.6 percent of leagues. … Thrashers forward Colby Armstrong had a goal and knocked Leafs forward Jason Blake out of the game with a third-period hit. Blake might have a concussion. … Thrashers forward Todd White had two goals, giving him six on the season, along with 11 assists in 20 games. … Newly acquired Lee Stempniak assisted on Nik Antropov's goal in his Leafs debut. Stempniak was on a line with Antropov and Matt Stajan.