Early this week, Jarome Iginla was asked whether his team’s playoff hopes rested on him elevating his game down the stretch.
The long-standing theory in Calgary hhas always been: As Iginla goes, so do the Flames.
However, Iginla wouldn’t buy in that he needed to push himself to another level for the Flames as they headed into their final 10 regular-season games and with their playoff hopes a 50-50 possibility.
“I’ve really taken the approach of being ready for every game,” he said. “You try to be as consistent as you can.
“If I was saying that now, that I was really trying to turn it on (would mean I wasn’t before). I’ve been trying to turn it on for a long time. We’ve been trying all year. The preparation doesn’t change.
“I’m always trying to be good.”
The Flames need Iginla to be good, but the bottom line of his performances often means production.
Which means goals, assists and emotional leadership.
Exactly what he produced in Thursday night’s 5-2 drubbing of the Colorado Avalanche.
On a night the Flames received offensive contributions from all over, including Ales Kotalik, Iginla’s tallies stand out.
And not just because he moved into a tie with Denis Savard and Alex Mogilny for 49th place on the NHL’s all-time list with 473 goals, although he admitted being in the top-50 of all-time goal scorers is an honour.
“I think back to my second year, I went through some tough scoring times, and I wondered if I wasn’t going to be a scorer in the NHL,” he said. “I’ve been extremely blessed and never back then would have thought that.
“I hope to score a lot more.”
You can bet he’ll do that.
The key to these goals was how meaningful they were.
The first one opened the scoring, and was the kind Flames fans have seen so often, a sharp-angled one-timer during a five-on-three powerplay.
The second was worth a Subway card to a section’s worth of the Saddledome sellout crowd of 19,289.
Iginla’s first goal was his first in five games, but he insisted not feeling the pressure.
Mainly because the face of the franchise — who is closing in on 500 career goals and 1,000 points — knows he doesn’t have to do it all.
“You want to contribute and goals are part of it, but this year we’ve had all different guys score, and that means less pressure,” Iginla explained.
“I don’t feel that same way, squeezing the stick and looking for that goal. I feel if I play hard, things will happen.”
Next on the NHL’s list of top snipers is Bernie Nichols at 475.
The Flames need Iginla to move past him over the next few weeks, but he’s no longer willing to put it all on his shoulders, having watched what happened last year.
It’s an attitude he expects will prevent a recurrence of last season’s performance down the stretch, when he had no goals in the final 11 games and just one point in the last nine outings while the team faded from the playoff race.
“I learned from last year,” he said. “We were battling for the playoffs and stressing out, and that just zaps your energy.
“I think we got burned out and didn’t have the energy we needed. That didn’t help.
“I’m fortunate to go through that and learn from it.”