Cervenka shining through
SOG: 32 | +/-: -9
Brief impressions pointing to why Roman Cervenka was both a highly coveted unrestricted free agent last summer and why Calgary Flames general manager Jay Feaster brought the then 26-year-old Czech Republic native across the Atlantic and onto Scotiabank Saddledome ice.
No flash has been as bright as Cervenka's two-goal performance in Sunday's 3-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues.
A healthy scratch in three of his past five games before netting the pair at the expense of St. Louis, the Praha product made the loudest statement of his brief National Hockey League career.
"It's obviously nice to play again and be part of a win," Cervenka explained with the help of countryman Jiri Hudler playing the role of translator. "I felt really good. It's nice to score, especially at home. I'm happy."
His best outing in Flames' garb, too.
"He felt pretty good physically, obviously two beautiful goals and the win," Hudler explained after a brief exchange with Cervenka. "He feels so far in the short season, it was probably one of the better games for him."
Cervenka brought the 19,289 to their feet at 11:13 of the first period. Bearing down on a 2-on-1, he opted to keep and put a perfectly placed shot over the glove of St. Louis goaltender Jaroslav Halak to open the scoring.
He extended the lead to two after Hudler forced a turnover in the Blues zone and fed Cervenka behind the play. Displaying a blend of patience and great hands, Cervenka faked Halak before lifting a backhander into the net at 9:40 of the second period.
It's the kind of play coach Bob Hartley knew Cervenka was capable of.
"There's no doubt in our mind that Roman is capable of big goals," Hartley said. "He's a gifted hockey player, has great skills, has a great shot as we saw on the first goal and on the second one he recognized he had time and put Halak down with the fake on the blocker side, pulled it back to his backhand. It was another great goal."
Jarome Iginla, who knows something about goals with 525 to his credit, was certainly impressed with his teammate of 30 games.
"What a game, eh?" Iginla declared after his own goal served as a game-winner with seven minutes left in the third period. "For a few, he's been settling in and getting more confident…a big part of this game is confidence and you could see his coming and you could see his skill-set."
It was only a matter of time, according to the captain.
"It's great to see because I know he's been pushing himself hard and he wants to produce more but you can see it starting to roll for him more and his confidence come," Iginla said. "He's a very skilled, dynamic player and it's nice to see him feeling it."
And if Cervenka is finally feeling it, his flashes could leave a lasting impression on opponents going forward.