Flames shift into high gear

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:25 AM ET

You could call it killer instinct.

Jarome Iginla has a simpler assertion: The will to win.

A mere nine days ago, the Calgary Flames were in the midst of a firestorm.

Chicken Littles across the Stampede City believed the Flames -- having won only twice during a seven-game road trip -- were about to fall out of the playoff picture.

Fast forward to tonight's meeting with the Minnesota Wild at the 'Dome and the Flames are in a position unimaginable during its seven-year playoff drought.

They're three points away from clinching a post-season berth without any help.

"What's important is to keep going but yeah, we're thinking we want to clinch," Iginla said after an optional practice yesterday. "But then we want the division. Those are exciting things, for sure, and they're in our sight."

The Flames are also five points up on Colorado for the Northwest Division lead with only a half-dozen games left.

It's been an incredible turnaround. Thanks to a 4-0-1 run, the Flames went from struggling squad to being on the verge of receiving a banner.

It's like they finally hit the gas pedal.

And then the turbo charger came on.

"We haven't been quite as strong as we'd like to be but we've started playing our best since our road trip," said Iginla. "All the way around the room, guys have found a little bit more and been a little bit better."

Which begs the question, what happened?

Was there an epiphany?

A change in the game plan orchestrated by GM/head coach Darryl Sutter?

A fiery speech from Iginla and the rest of the leadership group?

"I don't think there was too many speeches by us players. Darryl had a couple in there and fiery is a good word for them," Iginla chuckled. "We did talk about being (near the end of the season) and knowing every team was gonna push and every team was gonna give all they had, and we were gonna be no different."

Which brings us back to the killer instinct.

Did the Flames finally find theirs?

"We wanted to win the division the whole time and we wanted to pull away, all that stuff, but it doesn't always work like that," Iginla said. "Those are good teams, it's a good division and they weren't rolling over, either.

"But this last stretch everybody came back from that road trip saw all our goals came down to those last games, and we were gonna play all the teams we were fighting with.

"If you look around the room, I think everybody has found a little more. All I know is we want to win. If that qualifies as killer instinct, than that's it."


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