SUN Hockey Pool

Goals get around

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:42 AM ET

A lot has been made of the Calgary Flames' scoring, or lack thereof, this season. So it might be surprising the team is on the cusp of an achievement not reached since Jarome Iginla's rookie year.

Despite owning the fourth-lowest offensive output in the league, the Flames are on the brink of boasting five 20-goal scorers -- a statistic not seen by this team since the 1996-97 season.

In fact, Iginla -- the Flames' most consistent sniper since then -- was the only player to break the mark two years ago in the first full campaign under GM/head coach Darryl Sutter's defence-first system.

That system helped the Flames reach the Stanley Cup final in 2004 and currently has them in the driver's seat for the Northwest Division title after wrapping up a playoff spot with a point from Saturday's overtime loss in Vancouver.

That system also makes the 20-goal mark a special plateau for those who reach it.

"Just the way we play and our team, it's a grind-it-out style," said Tony Amonte, who surprisingly isn't among those in contention. "Every goal you get, you've got to work for.

"We're not going to have any 40-goal scorers."

Unless Iginla pots another half-dozen in the final four games, which isn't entirely out of the question.

Even so, Iginla (34), centre Daymond Langkow (23) and young winger Chuck Kobasew (20) have already reached the goal-scorer's standard. Crafty winger Kristian Huselius and rookie defenceman Dion Phaneuf each need one more tally to reach the mark, which Iginla considers an admirable feat.

"I think 20 is a good accomplishment," said the Flames captain, who potted 21 in his rookie year and, after a sophomore slump kept him to 13 in 1997-98, has surpassed that total the past seven seasons. "It felt good to get to 20 for the first time. It always feels good to get to it and hopefully get to more."

Iginla has been under constant criticism because he's not in contention for the Maurice Richard and Art Ross trophies he claimed in 2002. But perhaps what's being overlooked is the fact his supporting cast is stronger than it has ever been.

For the first time since 2000-01, Iginla has given the club less than 20% of its goal scoring.

And that's a good thing, says Amonte.

"Yeah, a well-rounded team. I think that's what kind of team Darryl's trying to build -- a four-line team," said Amonte, who has 13 goals and 41 points on the season. "He needs everybody contributing. That's the only way you're going to win. You can't rely on one line and win anymore."

The team's top forwards are expected to net their share but the balance the Flames have experienced this year has Iginla excited -- not only about the playoffs but future seasons in Calgary.

"Some guys are playmakers, some guys are goal-scorers, some guys are both. Some guys don't play very many minutes and 20 is even more impressive," said Iginla, who makes a good point when you consider Kobasew is averaging little more than 12 minutes of ice time per game.

"It's partly your role, too. For a defenceman like Dion to be on the verge of scoring 20 -- not just his rookie season but anytime -- is, I think, very impressive. But it's extremely impressive that it is his rookie season.

"I think there's a lot of positives for the present but also for the future for the Calgary Flames."


Videos

Photos