SUN Hockey Pool

Iginla fires up Flames' engine

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:01 AM ET

It's no secret the Calgary Flames only go as far as Jarome Iginla takes them.

The Flames captain has had an MVP-type season, is on the verge of hitting the 50-goal plateau for the second time in his career and is the face of the franchise.

But heading into last night's game against the Edmonton Oilers, the Flames were only four points clear of the final playoff spot and precariously close to slipping out of the post-season.

Yet unlike the rest of his team, Iginla didn't have his game scowl on yesterday morning and was looking forward to the most important contest his team has played to date.

"This is fun," he said prior to yesterday's contest. "You play all year looking forward to the playoffs. These are playoff-style games. There are huge implications either way. As a player there more there is on the line, the better the win feels."

Iginla went into last night's game with 49 goals on the season. His team has only scored 218 all year.

Figure in his 45 assists and the Edmonton native has been directly involved in 43% of the Flames scoring this year.

Yet getting to the 50-goal plateau was not pressing concern.

"Honestly right now it's strictly about wins," Iginla said.

"If (50) comes, it comes. But it's about getting wins and doing what we can to beat Edmonton. That's something I'm not thinking about right now."

As a player that can do it all, his competitiveness is being used against him.

And part of the Flames struggles lately, in large part, have to do with Iginla getting involved in melees after the whistle.

It's something head coach Mike Keenan would like to see his best player skate away from.

"We had that conversation with him a long time ago. It's counterproductive for him to get involved with issues that will take him off the ice," Keenan said.

"Those players play with an edge, but the understand the consequences of going over the edge.

"When you play with an edge, you must pick your own partner.

"It's not something that they don't know, it's something that they just need to be reminded of from time to time."

With three games left in their season going into last night's play, Iginla is well aware of what's at stake.

And with him in the lineup, it's hard to imagine Calgary not making the playoffs this season.

He's made a habit of pulling his team out of slumps this year.

"I think there's a balance. I like that part of it too, it gets you in the game," Iginla said.

"But you have to find that balance. At one time (Sunday against the Canucks) Dion (Phaneuf) (Matthew) Lombardi and myself were sitting in the penalty box and we can't have all three of us sitting in the box at the same time. Most teams would take that trade.

"There is a certain line that you try to walk.

"We may have gone over it last game, but we have to try to have that edge, that's part of what our team needs to do is to have the edge physically and emotionally."


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