Iggy of old will return

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:21 AM ET

Jarome Iginla scored one goal in the first five games last season.

Coincidentally, it took the third contest for him to light the lamp. Just as long as it took this season.

Is it too much to ask people to wait at least a couple of weeks before hitting any panic buttons about him, or any other player?

Same thing for saying how great they are.

Over the NHL season's first couple of weeks, there are all kinds of anomalies.

Every year, some unknown player has a great start that takes everyone by surprise.

Colorado netminder Craig Anderson would fall into this category with his perfect record (2-0-0), 1.00 goals-against average and .973 save percentage.

And every year, a proven player doesn't get out of the blocks quickly. How many people realized Pavel Datsyuk and Jonathan Toews failed to collect a single point in their first two games?

Which brings us back to the whole Iginla discussion.

Last season, according to research by The Hockey News, Iginla sat 160th in league scoring on Oct. 19, 2008, which was after five games. He climbed into the top 10 by November and when the season ended, he was ninth.

Ryan Getzlaf was 444th Oct. 19, 2008. He finished seventh. Alex Ovechkin was 134th and climbed to second spot.

Scoring isn't Iginla's problem. If there should be a concern, it's how he adapts to the demands of head coach Brent Sutter when it comes to defensive zone play.

Too many bad habits crept into Iginla's game over the past few seasons, just like so many others on the Flames, so it will take time to find better form again. It's taking time for the Flames captain, as well as No.-1 centre Olli Jokinen, to do instinctively what's expected. Currently, they both have to take that split-second to think about where they should be and where they need to go, and it's slowing them down.

As Sutter said: "Jarome is working hard on his game to make himself better in a team concept. Goals will come."

With time, Iginla and Jokinen will figure it out and be better at both ends of the ice.

Flaming C-notes

Here's a strange complaint surrounding the Flames these days. Brent Sutter doesn't mix up the lines enough. In fact, he doesn't at all. After two seasons of Mixmaster Mike Keenan's antics, it just seems weird to go four games in a row with the exact same units. The biggest switch we've seen was in the final minute of Calgary's win over the Montreal Canadiens. In the final minute, the defensive pairing of Jay Bouwmeester and Mark Giordano was replaced by a duo of Dion Phaneuf and Adam Pardy. Phaneuf spent most of his time with Robyn Regehr, but Regehr struggled that game ... That said, it sure makes you wonder how long Sutter will keep Regehr and Phaneuf together. For some reason, something that should work brilliantly never has ... A friend of ours in Finland passed on the news aTurku court has levied a fine of about $75,000 to Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff for illegally cutting down trees on his own property. He cut down 42 trees in August 2008 without permission, which the law states alters the landscape, and fines are based on your income. Kiprusoff is appealing the decision.

Hockey talky

It will be curious to see whether Ray Emery can keep it up, and keep it together, for the Philadelphia Flyers. That looks like a team to reckon with ... We're not sure Detroit has it now when you think players like Marian Hossa, Jiri Hudler, Mikael Samuelsson and Tomas Kopecky have been replaced with Ville Leino, Todd Bertuzzi, Jason Williams and the newly signed Brad May. No matter how you try to spin it, you can't say that's anything but a step backwards ... It's a shame a Minnesota Wild team that may actually be worth watching had its sellout streak end because the Twins faced the Detroit Tigers in a one-game playoff for baseball's Central Division title. Then again, had the Wild iced an entertaining team these past few years, fans wouldn't have had such a "wait-and-see" approach.

You don't say

"If he got any better, he'd be scary."

Gordie Howe on Alex Ovechkin

RANDY.SPORTAK@SUNMEDIA.CA


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