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Line of Kane, Jokinen, Wellwood mix well together on Day 2

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Near as we can tell, history has no notation documenting the first man to mix peanut butter with jam. Same goes for the dude who discovered matching rum with Coke made for a darn fine combination.

To that end -- and without bothering to do any research whatsoever -- it's also hard not to wonder if the gentleman who first teamed nitrate with glycerol lived to enjoy blowing things up or if his last words were:

'Oh crap...'

 

We bring this up because on Day 2 of Winnipeg Jets training camp the subject du jour was chemistry.

What is the hockey version of it?

What's the ideal way to find it in a line combination?

And is there some sort of magic formula that can transform a trio into a dominant force, the way Hull, Hedberg and Nilsson instantly blended into The Hot Line back in the day?

"How do you know if you have good chemistry with somebody?" began Olli Jokinen, who centred a line with Evander Kane and Kyle Wellwood on Monday. "It's simply that feeling you get that when you get the puck on your stick you know where your linemates are going to be. Even today, I felt there was definitely chemistry right away with Evander and Welly.

"Our line will keep continuing to get better, but I definitely think it was a good start. There's the pieces there that can make us a good line."

Jokinen raved about Kane, comparing his skill set to Jarome Iginla's and Curtis Glencross's in Calgary. And he gushed about Wellwood's hockey sense.

Interestingly, just a few minutes earlier, Kane's eyes were lighting up at the prospects of teaming up night in, night out with the same centre -- this after a 2011-12 campaign which saw him put up 30 goals while changing centres as often as he changed socks.

"It'd definitely be nice to have some consistency, especially in a short season," Kane said. "Hopefully, we can perform well enough that we give the coach no choice but to keep us together.

"I think the last time I really had true chemistry on a team was my last year in junior. It'd be nice to be able to have that and build on it during the year."

Just for the record, Kane's last year of junior with the Vancouver Giants was in 2008-09 and his regular linemates were Casey Pierro-Zabotel and Gary Nunn. The three of them had 115, 96 and 65 points, respectively.

Now, if you think chemistry and line combinations are just some sort of media or fan fixation, think again. An example: Jokinen, who has been around long enough to suit up for 1,042 NHL games with six -- soon to be seven -- different teams, can tell you which trio he remembers most fondly.

"In Florida, I was probably playing my best hockey on a line with Gary Roberts and Jozef Stumpel," he recalled. "And after Roberts went to Pittsburgh it was Nathan Horton on that line.

"I played with Stumpel three years there and I had 91 points, 89 points and 71 points.

"Sometimes it just works, you know?"

It's right about here where we should pump the brakes a tad. It's one thing to create some magic in practice, it's another altogether to be doing it while an enemy defenceman is trying to squish you into the end boards.

And it's also worth noting that Jets head coach Claude Noel -- while acknowledging the seeming instant chemistry between Kane, Jokinen and Wellwood after practice -- is hardly going to write that combo in permanent marker on the white board in the dressing room.

But the Jets' brass also know this: This team could desperately use another consistent scoring line outside of the Andrew Ladd-Bryan Little-Blake Wheeler unit which, FYI, remained intact on Monday.

And when the Jets signed Jokinen as a free agent last summer, it's pretty clear they saw his game meshing well with Kane's.

"The way that they play suits each other," said Noel. "I've got to allow for some chemistry to take place, as long as the effort's there and they're not losing sight of their defensive roles.

"And the third guy might be the guy that is the glue. That's what you have to find. Is it Kyle Wellwood? He's a smart player, he's a passer.

"It's pretty hard to ignore what they potentially could do."

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPEdTait

Lines, lines, everywhere a line

 

Some of the line combinations spotted while the Jets worked out Monday:

 

LWCRW

Evander KaneOlli JokinenKyle Wellwood

Andrew LaddBryan LittleBlake Wheeler

Chris ThorburnJim SlaterMark Scheifele

Alex PonikarovskyAlex BurmistrovAntti Miettinen

 

Notes

-- Nik Antropov, who played a lot with Ponikarovsky during their days in Toronto, did not practice Tuesday.

-- Spencer Machacek took some turns with Slater and Thorburn; Maxime Macenauer with Burmistrov and Ponikarovsky.

Olli said it:

Here's Jokinen's take on Kyle Wellwood:

"I'm amazed how smart he is... the hockey sense he's got. He's the type of guy that can play with any player and he can make any player better. He's such a great little player. That's two days I've seen him. I've played against him a lot over the years and now being (with him) I'm very surprised how good he is."

 

 

And on Evander Kane:

"Evander is a shoot-first guy. He's got good wheels. There's a lot of similarities (with) Iggy (Jarome Iginla). You give him the puck in the offensive zone and you know he's going to be able to score, you know he's going to be able to beat the 'D' one on one. He's a good young player and we need him to be good, too. We need him to stay focused and play his game and he'll be a huge help with this team."

--Ed Tait

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 15, 2013 C1

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