Flames pining for time

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:41 AM ET

Sitting on the bench through much of the second period, Jarome Iginla found himself in a rare position.

It's not often the Calgary Flames captain finds himself pinned to the pine, as was the case for a chunk of Tuesday's 3-1 loss at the 'Dome against the Phoenix Coyotes.

Then again, Iginla wasn't alone. Other than one short shift during a late-period powerplay, all six members of the Flames' top two lines were benched for about 10 minutes of the affair.

"Anyone who's not playing, you want to be out there," said Iginla, who was on the ice for two goals against and took a tripping penalty before the benching.

"The game's not going the way you like -- we're down -- and you want to make a difference. You want to be out there, you want to help the team. Every one of us wants to be out there.

"You're trying to find a way to help turn it, and it doesn't feel good to be sitting there."

Don't think Iginla's going to shrug it off. He's not upset with head coach Mike Keenan and understands why the decision was made.

It's just that Iginla and his teammates are driving to prove they'll be better, starting with tomorrow's clash with the New York Islanders.

"As an athlete and as a player, you hope to get another chance. You understand sometimes if you're not (playing), but as soon as it comes, you want to do something positive for the team," Iginla said. "It's part of the game. It goes like that and now you look forward to the next game."

Iginla's feeling was echoed by Craig Conroy.

"That's part of it. Ice time is the key thing, and we weren't going well," Conroy said. "It was one of those where other guys, lines, were playing better. It would have been nice to get back out there after their powerplay goal, because that was my fault ... but we just didn't have that edge, right from the beginning."

However, the benchings -- and pretty much anything else that transpired during the loss to the Coyotes -- were left in the past when the Flames practised yesterday.

Keenan certainly didn't think twice about the move or need to talk it over with his charges.

"You don't have to. They understand, and they know the process," Keenan said. "At certain points of the season, it may or may not happen. It doesn't happen very often. It's part of the growth of the group together -- that all the parts have to come together -- and it's good for them to be reminded of it.

"Last night, you're not happy with it, but as long as we move forward from it, learn from it and continue to get better, that's what we need to do to progress and make sure we're playoff bound and playoff ready."

Yesterday's practice had its share of levity. Sure, there was disappointment from the defeat, but it's only the team's second regulation-time loss since November, so it's not like the club is in dire straits.

Keenan skated his charges hard, but it was disguised among plenty of three-on-three and four-on-four play that featured forwards playing defence and defencemen skating as forwards.

"Those are hidden bag-skates," Iginla said with a laugh. "You have a little fun, but by the end of the day, you're completely tapped.

"We had a good work practice. It was hard, but part of the message was that we'd lost and weren't as good as we should have been. We know that, and now we get back to work.

"But don't dwell on it. Our mood today is good, and we want to get back at it.

"This one we don't feel good about, and it sits with us all for a night. After the game, nobody feels good. We go home, we're all thinking about it. But today's a new day. We look for the positives.

"We're going good as a team. We're in the division hunt. Now we get back at it."

And they better not have another dogged performance against the Islanders. If they do, then there may be fallout.

"Exactly," Conroy said. "But also look at the standings. We were first in the division for a little bit of time, and now we want to get back at the top. The only way to do that is to win."


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