SUN Hockey Pool

Flames' ship still afloat

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 10:11 AM ET

DALLAS -- Losing Jarome Iginla, so thought many, was supposed to steer the good ship Calgary Flames into the Bermuda Triangle.

When their star captain went down with a knee injury, those in the Stampede City were scared.

At the time, Iginla was arguably the best player in the NHL, racking up multiple-point games, providing dominating performances and putting his team in the playoff picture.

Nearly two weeks later, the sky hasn't fallen, neither on the Flames nor all the Chicken Littles.

Without Iginla, the Flames have collected four wins in five outings, not to mention the thrilling late comeback victory over Florida the night the captain was injured.

Even more impressive is the fact they've scored 20 goals since he was hurt, counting the half game after he went down.

Long-term, the Flames would be hard pressed to continue winning without their best player. Over time, teams without a game-breaker struggle to rattle off wins. For now, there's a sense of pride in the Flames dressing room over how they've fared without their star winger.

"Even (Monday) night, we were tied in the third," said Kristian Huselius of their 5-3 loss in Nashville. "We had a lead and had the game going in the right direction.

"We've been playing solid and it's good for the team to show we can score goals without Jarome.

"We've all had to step it up and play better. When Jarome is out, we have to come together and find ways to win and so far we've done a pretty good job of that."

They must continue to do so, with the next test tonight in Dallas against a severely beat up Stars team.

But how are they doing it?

Assistant coach Wayne Fleming insists they haven't changed the game plan.

"We've really, from day one, tried to establish the Flames identity. Regardless of who's in or out of the lineup, you have to maintain that consistency of how you must play to be successful," Fleming said after putting a handful of charges through their paces at an optional practice. "Quite frankly, his name never comes up because players have an ability to move on quickly.

"If anything, it forced players to get a little tighter among themselves and pull together."

It hasn't resulted in as much scoring by committee as they'd like but players such as Huselius, Daymond Langkow, Byron Ritchie, David Moss, Dustin Boyd and Jeff Friesen have taken their turn playing hero.

"Everybody's had a good opportunity to make a contribution offensively and we all realize we have to play strong defensively to make up for Iggy's 100 points or what it may be," Fleming said. "It's become a real team-oriented group of players and there's a sense of pride in it."


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