SUN Hockey Pool

Flames need more than Iginla

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:33 PM ET

CALGARY — Nobody should expect Jarome Iginla to always play the role of the caped crusader.

It’s unrealistic to believe the Calgary Flames captain must — or can — solely carry his team from ninth place into the playoffs.

Still, that being said, one goal and five assists in the last 10 games isn’t going to cut it. Not when a post-season berth hangs in the balance.

And while it may not be fair for Iginla to be expected to perform like Superman, with the Flames on the brink of missing the second season, they need their captain to be all-world over their final six games.

“I have high expectations of myself, always have,” Iginla said after Tuesday’s practice. “We have six games left and need everybodyto look at themselves to bring a lot.

“We all need to be impact players, and we have to approach it, not to wait for somebody else to do it.”

Iginla remains the face of the franchise, the highest-paid player, the star.

He’s also their lone true gamebreaker.

Lately, he hasn’t been that gamebreaker. Not even close. The statistics tell the story.

“I’m gonna work on changing it, try to do some positive things,” he said in anticipation of Wednesday’s all-important clash with the Phoenix Coyotes at the Dome. “I think it’s more than just scoring goals. At the beginning of the year, if I score two and we lose, you say, ‘You got two goals and lost.’ It’s all about wins.

“In saying that, it’s not waiting for anybody else to go do it. We all have to keep getting better and produce and have an impact. I’m going to prepare to do that.”

The Flames shouldn’t have to rely on just Iginla to create the offence.

They have all kinds of players being paid handsomely to score goals: Rene Bourque, Matt Stajan, Niklas Hagman, Ales Kotalik, and on and on.

They all must step forward.

Still, when it comes down to the crunch, it’s always been on Iginla’s back for the Flames to succeed. He knows it and has spent a decade coping with it remarkably well.

“We don’t want to put all that pressure on somebody, but deep down, he’s probably thinking that he is gonna make the difference,” said centre Craig Conroy. “He’s capable of doing it. He has those games where he just takes over and, hopefully, that’s the case down the stretch here.

“He expects if of himself, but the team knows we have to do it as a collective 20 guys on the ice. That’s what we were able to do against Washington.”

Iginla didn’t score in Sunday’s 5-3 win over the league-leading Capitals, but he did play a big part in the outcome.

Ian White’s first-period power play tally to make the score 2-0 was an example of what Iginla can do even if he doesn’t light the lamp. He won the battle for the puck in the corner and played a bit of give-and-go before unloading a shot. White scored on the rebound.

It’s those plays head coach Brent Sutter wants to mention when people simply look at Iginla’s goal total.

“We need our team to be a good team. You guys focus in on one guy so much, and to me, it’s not right,” Sutter said. “It’s about how we play as a team. Yes, Jarome Iginla can score goals, but we need Jarome Iginla to be a real good all-around player for us, and it’s no different than everyone else.

“We won a game in Washington and got five goals, and Jarome wasn’t one of the goalscorers but played a very good hockey game. You guys look at him strictly as a goal scorer, but I look at him for other elements that we need. The other night, he was one of our better players.

“If we win a game and Jarome Iginla doesn’t score a goal, as long as he plays well and does what he needs to do, I’m good with it.”

He should. But history has proven the Flames have a better chance when No. 12 is making an impact.

If they want to be a playoff team, the time has come.


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