Iggy needed big time

STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:17 AM ET

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The first word out of Rene Bourque’s mouth wasn’t fit for print.

The next few were just as important in illustrating how crucial that 4-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche in Denver really was for the Calgary Flames.

“We needed that game so bad,” Bourque said of the victory that snapped a four-game losing skid. “Got the monkey off our shoulders a bit and relieved some of the pressure and stress.”

It’s only temporary relief.

With games against the Coyotes Friday in Phoenix and Saturday against the Sharks in San Jose, the Flames still have plenty to prove.

There were just as many questions as answers after the game in Denver.

Digging out a win after trailing early in the third period on the road was a positive, as was the play of goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff and the revamped second and third lines.

But beating a team missing four of its top six defencemen is one thing. Doing the same against stronger opponents will take an even bigger team effort — and that means more from the captain.

Jarome Iginla’s slump continues to dive into uncharted waters. With two goals in the first 14 games of the season and just one over his final 16 last season, the 33-year-old right-winger has scored three times in 30 contests.

While it’s true the team wants the veteran to focus on playing a strong team game rather than just scoring, they need the goals to come, too.

Maybe more importantly, they want him to be a game-changer.

He fired just one shot at Avalanche goaltender Peter Budaj, and was more noticeable for a couple of second-period scrums than anything else he did all evening.

His hit on T.J. Galiardi along the boards broke the Calgary kid’s wrist, and Iginla seemed to be attempting to fire himself up while going after rookie defenceman Colby Cohen in anger behind the Avs net, but he blandly blended in the rest of the night.

Bang for their buck? Not at US$7 million a season.

That could all be overlooked if the Flames start winning consistently, but you can bet they’ll need their captain to start playing better for that to happen. And his linemates, Alex Tanguay and Matt Stajan, too.

Just look at this season’s body of work as an example.

Their wins have come against the Los Angeles Kings — who were playing the second of a back-to-back-night set — two against the Edmonton Oilers, one over the Nashville Predators, Columbus Blue Jackets, the San Jose Sharks (who, like the Kings, were playing their second game in as many nights), and now the injured Avs.

When it comes to big contests, things haven’t gone as well. They’ve lost a pair to the Detroit Red Wings and were embarrassed at home by the Washington Capitals.

Big games require strong performances by the team’s top players, and Iginla is still the Flames’ top gun — if only in name these days.

He doesn’t have the it factor anymore — but he’s got to have something. The Flames are going to need it if they want to keep the good feeling found in the locker-room in Denver going for any length of time.

steve.macfarlane@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/MacfarlaneSteve


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