Iggy hopes for afternoon delight

STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:53 PM ET

CALGARY — Morning skates should be optional for Jarome Iginla.

The Calgary Flames captain was great the last time his team played an afternoon contest, pacing them past the Kings with a hat-trick in a 5-2 victory in Los Angeles last month.

Scoring just two goals in 13 contests since, and none in his last eight games, Iginla admits the start time this afternoon when the Flames host the Nashville Predators might be a motivational tool.

“Yeah. Well, right now, I’m just working on one,” he said with a laugh yesterday when reminded about his three-goal outburst in the last matinee.

“I try to draw on anything, all the positives for sure. I plan on feeling good (this) afternoon.”

Fans filling the Saddledome today when the puck drops at 2 p.m. would love to see that.

December’s been rough for Iginla, who has no goals, five points and a minus-1 rating through eight games this month. The team has struggled, too, going 3-4-1 during his cold snap.

Ending a three-game losing streak with Thursday’s 2-1 win over the Kings, the Flames hope they’re back on track. Getting Iginla back on that train would go a long way in ensuring they continue chugging forward.

“Afternoon games are fun. It’s nice to play at home, too. We don’t play a lot of those at home. More kids that go to the game. Our own kids can go to the game,” Iginla said.

“It brings you back to when you’re younger.”

If it brings the 32-year-old back to November, it would be great for the Flames.

Scoring 13 goals and earning 20 points in 14 games last month, Iginla accounted for more than half his output on the season after a slow start.

He was locked into a shoot-first mentality, moving his feet and driving the net more often than not.

“I definitely had some good breaks and things were going in,” Iginla said. “It’ll go again.”

Using physical play against the Kings, Iginla’s teammates might have mapped out what their captain needs to do.

Their coach certainly sees the hard-hitting style as something that can give everyone a boost.

“We needed some emotion here. The emotion level hadn’t been where we wanted it to be in the last three games, four games,” said Brent Sutter. “A part of the emotion is getting involved in the game and being involved in the sense where you’re engaged in it. We certainly had a lot of guys last night that were.”

Suggesting he and linemate Olli Jokinen will both attempt to get back into the shooting spirit, Iginla also shouldn’t shy away from getting physical.

“It helps, for sure,” he admitted. “That’s part of our identity, is the competitiveness.

“It usually puts the other team on its heels. You’ve got the other team running around, and maybe a little bit tentative if you get as many hits as we did (Thursday) night.”

Nobody expects Iginla to score as many goals as he did in last matinee, but one would be a great start.

steve.macfarlane@sunmedia.ca


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