SUN Hockey Pool

Don't forget Flames' Iggy

Calgary Flames captain Jarome Iginla is coming off a four-point outing in a 6-3 win over the...

Calgary Flames captain Jarome Iginla is coming off a four-point outing in a 6-3 win over the Phoenix Coyotes Saturday night and is on pace to score a career-high 112 points this season. (Calgary Sun/Darren Makowichuk)

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:34 AM ET

ANAHEIM -- The Sidney Crosby coronation is gathering momentum around the NHL.

It's understandable with the teen (as amazing as that seems, he's still a teenager at the tender age of 19) leading the NHL in scoring.

With Crosby's rise to the top of the scoring chart (he currently has 52 points), which included a six-point game last week against the Flyers, the accolades and superlatives have come fast and furious.

Certainly, a case can be made Sid the Kid is indeed the best player in the game, as has been stated by his Pittsburgh Penguins head coach, Michel Therrien, and Montreal bench boss Guy Carbonneau.

But the Calgary Flames believe captain Jarome Iginla is still very much in the running for that title, as well.

As defenceman Andrew Ference pointed out yesterday, the title of 'Best Player in Hockey' is about more than just goals and assists.

Remember, Ference played on a Pittsburgh Penguins team that featured Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr and Alexei Kovalev, so he knows a thing or two about playing with superstars.

"I'm not gonna trade (Iginla) for anybody. I don't know everybody in the league but what I've seen from him is as good of a superstar as you can have on your team," Ference stated. "I've seen great, great players but what sets Jarome apart is what he does for the team. I've seen a lot of great players who can do a lot of great things for themselves, as far as points and highlights and all that. Not saying they're horrible team people but they're not the team people I've seen from Jarome. He'll do the extra things defensively, take the hit, make the hit, all those little things a lot of superstars don't do."

As important as goals are, explained Ference, what makes a player great must go beyond statistics.

Iginla's abilities fall into those intangible categories.

He kills penalties. He battles physically -- willing to drop the gloves when necessary but also in the corners for loose pucks. He sacrifices for the team, forgoing bigger offensive stats for a more complete game.

"He sets an example for everybody else on the team that a lot of other superstars can't," Ference explained. "Other superstars can have the skill set other players just can't achieve whereas the little things he does, guys can emulate and try to live up to his example.

"Obviously, I'm not going to score as many goals as him and some of the fourth-line guys aren't going to be able to make the moves he can but they do a lot of the other things he can and take a page out of that book."

And, to top it off, Iginla has been lighting up the scoreboards at a career-best rate.

Coming off his two-goal, two-assist performance against Phoenix Saturday night in a 6-3 win -- his second four-point night in three outings -- Iginla heads into tonight's clash in Anaheim against the Ducks on pace for 55 goals, 57 assists and 112 points. All which would be career highs for the two-time Rocket Richard Trophy and one-time Art Ross Trophy winner.

However, don't expect the modest captain to start extolling his virtues.

"A big part of it is chemistry with our line," Iginla said, heaping praise on Daymond Langkow and Alex Tanguay.

Through the Flames' first 30 games, which included a horrible start with only three victories in the first dozen outings, Iginla has been a model of consistency.

He's been held off the score sheet in only six games but never on consecutive outings

"I feel better, feel more consistent, as far as chances," Iginla said.

One other aspect to his impressive performance this season is the joy he's having with the game.

"I think the last couple of years, where we've had some success, has been very good for his mind," Ference said. "It's good for him to know he's not just a superstar on a non-playoff team. He's a legitimate superstar on a team that's good and respected around the league, and I think that makes a big difference."

You could even argue it's helping him be the best in the league.


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