SUN Hockey Pool

Iggy looking to heat up his game

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 12:19 PM ET

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Jarome Iginla admits he's always been hot and cold.

His current cool streak could give a polar bear chills.

Two goals in his last 18 games is nothing to shrug off, and the Calgary Flames captain is taking it seriously.

So is his general manager, who took Iginla aside for a strategy session in Los Angeles before their game against the Kings.

"Tips. Darryl always gives me little tips here or there, what he's seeing up top," Iginla said when asked about the meeting.

"I'm open, just looking for different things to jumpstart it."

People will point to a strong supporting cast taking away some of his goals.

They'll suggest his assist totals are as high as they've ever been.

But make no mistake, Iginla earned his $7-million per season contract as a goal-scorer.

And he knows it.

"I do (love to score). It's also a part of my role on the team," said Iginla. "It's important to contribute goals."

We're not seeing many of them off Iginla's stick lately.

He got off to a hot start, with 14 in his first 27 contests.

Scoring just six since then, and only two since the calendar flipped to 2009, Iginla can't deny he's having trouble finding his game.

"I'm battling it a little bit, and looking to get back in the groove," he said.

"It's nothing I haven't been through before."

There's something different about this year's extended slump, however.

In the past he's still been a major factor out on the ice, working hard to take the puck to the net, bulling his way through opponents.

In too many games to count over the past couple months, people have wondered if they were going to see the face of the Flames on the back of a milk carton or in a children's book peeking out from a crowd wearing a bright striped shirt.

They're asking: Where's Iginla?

He might be asking that of himself right now. As happy-go-lucky as Iginla seems on the outside in every public appearance, he's one of the most competitive and serious athletes on the team.

His close friends will tell you he's bothered by the way things are going for him right now.

"This has been a little longer or different style (of slump) as far as I haven't been feeling it as much," said Iginla.

"I think about it a little bit, but I try and let it go."

Making things slightly easier to deal with is the fact the team is doing well. Iginla says that buys him more time.

"I'm just going to stay positive and keep working on improving my game. It needs to come up, there's no question," he said.

"You start pressing a little bit -- everybody does -- and you start thinking about things too much."

What he's thinking about, and being told, is to move his feet, compete hard and go to the net.

Warming up a little Thursday in Los Angeles, Iginla showed signs of competing harder.

He backchecked with authority and drove to the net.

He also mishandled the puck on occasion.

"Some days, the puck feels square, you're up there stickhandling it, you go to shoot and it rolls off your stick," he said. "Then one day, it comes and it feels like it's on a string again.

"I'm looking to get hot and I believe it will happen."

Most people do.

It's been a long, cold winter already.

STEVE.MACFARLANE@SUNMEDIA.CA


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