What's wrong with Iginla?

Flames fan favourite Jarome Iginla is admittedly disappointed with his play and is looking for...

Flames fan favourite Jarome Iginla is admittedly disappointed with his play and is looking for answers. (Calgary Sun File/Al Charest)

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 1:32 PM ET

The catcall from the crowd would seem unimaginable not that long ago.

Late in the Calgary Flames Tuesday-night loss to Nashville, a voice rang out from the throng that filled the Saddledome.

"Do something, Iggy!" was the plea.

It wasn't just an appeal for the captain to turn the game around and pull a victory from the jaws of defeat.

It was also a cajoling to be the $7-million star fans expect to see night after night.

It's a sign Flames faithful are fed up with the average season Iginla's had so far.

All those out there wondering, "What's wrong with Iggy" aren't alone.

He is, too -- admittedly disappointed and looking for answers.

"I'm not playing as well as I can. I'm aware of that," Iginla said after yesterday's practice. "There's probably a little bit of hesitation but it's being not as sharp as I want to be. It's not a lack of wanting.

"I'll keep working through it and get back to being more effective, getting more chances and getting more results."

In the big picture, the results aren't that bad based on his history.

His team-leading 15 goals (along with 30 points) is ahead of the pace set during the 2003-04 season, which he ended as co-winner of the Rocket Richard Trophy.

However, the rub comes in the fact Iginla has collected only four goals and five assists in the last 17 outings.

That output has dropped the 2001-02 goal and points champ to 56th spot in the NHL's scoring race.

Moreover, he isn't often the dominating force fans saw in that incredible season, where Iginla played the role of Superman in helping the club advance to the seventh game of the 2004 Stanley Cup final.

Instead of being the always affable superstar who regularly leads the Flames to victory, Iginla has too often been invisible.

In fact, during the Flames' 2-1 Boxing Day win over Vancouver, he was more noticeable reaching for Anson Carter on the lone Canucks goal and trying to catch up to Bryan Allen on a shot that hit the post.

In the Nashville clash, he played only 17 minutes and 37 seconds -- his second-lowest total of the season -- with Marcus Nilson taking over Iginla's usual post on the first powerplay unit.

If you're looking for the reason why he's not on top of his game, you're not alone.

After readying for tonight's game against the Minnesota Wild (8 p.m., 'Dome), Iginla admitted he's constantly analysing his play of late, to the point where "the puck feels square."

"It's a combination of things," he said. "It's not something simple to answer, you know, 'Just skate.' It kinda snowballs when you start thinking out there, hesitation sets in and then you're not moving instead of reacting.

"I could move a little bit better and do more with the puck but it'll come. I hope it comes now and next game."

Giving the most hope -- aside from the fact the Flames are still in the hunt for top spot in the Northwest Division even with Iginla's struggles -- is the fact he has a history of both big second-half performances and scoring sprees.

With his trademark optimism, Iginla believes another is just around the corner.

"I would like to have had a better first half but I've had worse halves, many times, so I'm going to look at it as I've had a lot of good second halves and good streaks," he said. "I'm expecting that to be the case again.

"I believe the next shot's going to go in, the next game is going to be better.

"I've had some good games and a mini-stretch but I haven't been able to string anything together where I feel I'm really, really going.

"I'm looking to do that here."

That way the catcalls would give way to the usual Saddledome adulation reserved for the Calgary superstar at the 'Dome.


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