Iginla's seven-game itch

Flames captain Jarome Iginla has not scored a goal in his last seven games. (SUN MEDIA/Brett...

Flames captain Jarome Iginla has not scored a goal in his last seven games. (SUN MEDIA/Brett Gundlock)

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 3:35 PM ET

Mired in his second-longest goal drought since the turn of the century, Jarome Iginla is eager to get back to work.

After going seven games without a goal heading into the all-star break, the Calgary Flames captain gets a fresh start tonight against the San Jose Sharks (7:30 p.m., TSN).

A goose-egg in the goal column in his fourth run-and-gun all-star appearance didn't help the local scribes forget about his dry spell when he returned to practice at the Saddledome yesterday.

But Iginla insists he's not keeping a running count when it comes to his skid.

"No," he said with a laugh.

"I mean, I know. When the game comes, you don't really think about that. You try not to. Before the games and stuff, it's not as easy just to think of all the good stats. You want to get things going."

It helps knowing that with 32 goals and 63 points through the first 50 games, Iginla is on pace to match his career high of 52 scores and break into triple digits in points for the first time.

His consistency up to the final week and a half of hockey heading into the break has helped keep his confidence high.

Even in the face of a hungry pack of reporters searching for storylines amid a seven-day stretch without a game.

"This is just a little tight patch," said Iginla, chuckling good-naturedly at the suggestion the puck might seem a little square for him at the moment.

"I've probably got to get to the net a little more.

"You try to think back to when things are going the best. When you feel like you're on a hot streak, you're not really thinking of aiming the puck -- thinking I'm going to shoot it here or there -- it just happens.

"You just work and compete and those things, they come together. We've been doing it our whole lives. You don't waste any time thinking out there."

Also in his favour is the fact he's always bounced back from the low points. His longest drought since 2001 was a nine-game stretch during the 2005-06 campaign. He worked through a seven-game bout in 2003-04 and had six-game slips in 2001-02, 2002-03, and last season.

His competitive nature doesn't allow him to entirely brush off the effects, though.

Those who know him best will tell you how much Iginla loves to score. And the 30-year-old star will tell you the pressure he puts on himself is "always there."

"It's competitiveness and wanting to be a top goalscorer," said Iginla. "I shoot, and I get to be out there on powerplays and play with great playmakers -- that's part of a role."

Part of hockey is often hot and cold cycles of production, and Iginla knows that, too.

"Every year, everybody goes through some tough, tighter periods in terms of production," he said, adding he figures he's due for a hot streak now.

"That's the way I look at it. I'm excited to go. I think the next one's going to go in, it's going to be next game, and just look at it that way."

Winning games is the ultimate cure to any personal dissatisfaction, and a three-game streak -- thanks in part to timely goals from guys like Craig Conroy, Stephane Yelle and Matthew Lombardi -- going into the break helped alleviate any concerns.

"That's part of what good teams do is just keep carrying each other. If some guy goes through a tighter patch, other guys jump up and get hot," said Iginla.

"The nice thing is we won our last few games.

"As a line, we haven't been producing as much as you like, but when you're winning, it's great.

"When you're not winning, and you're losing by one goal or something, everybody thinks about it and those tough periods hurt a lot more. You feel them a lot more."


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