SUN Hockey Pool

Flames mates stepping up

Flames captain Jarome Iginla battles with Avalanche defenceman Scott Hannan Friday night in Denver....

Flames captain Jarome Iginla battles with Avalanche defenceman Scott Hannan Friday night in Denver. JUSTIN EDMONDS/QMI AGENCY

STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:44 PM ET

CHICAGO — It’s clear the offence isn’t going to come from the captain.

At least not consistently.

For a Calgary Flames club that has relied on Jarome Iginla as its sole source of sniping for so long, proving it can carry on without him isn’t a bad thing.

Whether the Flames and Iginla are anywhere near parting ways after 13 seasons together is an argument for another day — some pundits are starting to wonder whether it’s time to get some value for the future while there’s still a market for the 32-year-old former 50-goal scorer — but during a three-game winning streak that has the team in a dead-heat for the final playoff seed in the NHL’s Western Conference, Iginla has one point.

Rising to the surface as the team rises in the standings is that secondary scoring that has been a challenge in Calgary for weeks, months and years.

They’ll need it more than ever against the Chicago Blackhawks Sunday afternoon.

Cory Sarich scored the deciding goal in a 2-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche Friday night, giving the Flames eight different heroes in their 10 wins since the Olympic break.

Originally credited to Rene Bourque — who has three of the 10 winners since March 3 — further review showed the Flames forward didn’t get a piece of Sarich’s shot from the point, giving the grooving defenceman his first goal of the season.

“We all have to be difference-makers,” said Flames winger Eric Nystrom of the varied contributors. “We all are, in our own way.”

Nystrom, Iginla, Bourque, Ales Kotalik, Niklas Hagman, Jamal Mayers and Matt Stajan have all contributed winning goals since the break, as the Flames have won 10 of 16 tilts.

Nigel Dawes has four goals in his last eight games. David Moss and Craig Conroy each have two assists in three games. And rookie Mikael Backlund has four assists during a three-game run.

“Going down the stretch, that’s the kind of stuff you need,” Dawes said. “Everyone’s top line and top two lines, match up pretty good. A lot of times, your second, third and fourth lines, can win the hockey games. If we want to make the playoffs and do well, we’re going to have to have all four lines going.”

Matchups for the lower lines are going to be critical in the Flames’ last four games, as they try to rack up more points than the Avalanche to secure the eighth and final playoff position in the conference.

For Iginla, if he’s not scoring, he has to be a reliable backchecker at worst and a clutch contributor in a best-case scenario.

As troubled as fans may be that he has gone nine games without a single point since the Vancouver-hosted Olympic Winter Games, it’s more disturbing when he’s caught on the ice for goals against — like the lone goal scored by the Avs Friday when he was out of sorts deep in his own end, as Chris Stewart found teammate T.J. Galiardi alone in front of Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff.

If he’s not helping offensively, he has to do his best not to hurt the club defensively.

With his teammates stepping up their scoring, it’s only right he does the same in other areas.


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