February 7, 2012
Iginla believes Flames playoff-bound
By RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency
ANAHEIM - Every time Jarome Iginla’s name is brought up in the rumour mill, Calgary Flames GM Jay Feaster has shot it down.
But with the Feb. 27 trade deadline visible on the horizon and the Flames on the outside of the NHL’s Western Conference playoff picture, you can bet the captain’s name will soon enough be the subject of many rumours.
After Monday’s morning skate in anticipation facing the Anaheim Ducks, Iginla was asked whether he expected to be with the Flames past the deadline.
“I intend to,” said Iginla, who was caught off-guard by the question. “I think we’re going to be a playoff team. I believe that.
“I don’t want speak about the Eastern Conference, but the Western Conference? It’s tight. I don’t think there’s any heavy, favourite front-runner, so I think if you make it into the playoffs, you’ve got a shot.”
Iginla has one more year on his contract after this season. He also has a no-movement clause, so he holds the cards as to whether he’d be traded.
“I believe we can make it here. We’re four points out (prior to Monday’s action), but that can change very quickly. That’s where the focus is,” Iginla said. “I haven’t kept up on (any rumours). I don’t know where I’m supposed to be going or who’s going where or what. The focus has totally been on getting better here, and we need to put a streak together and get in the playoffs ourselves.”
There are all kinds of teams looking for game-breaker forwards — such as the Los Angeles Kings — so Iginla would have plenty of interest if he was shopped.
IN THE CREASE
Expect to see Leland Irving in action soon enough.
Flames head coach Brent Sutter said the rookie goalie will indeed play one of the three clashes during this road swing, which also consists of games on consecutive nights in San Jose and Phoenix.
“He’ll play one of the next two after (Monday night’s game in Anaheim), for sure,” Sutter said. “I just want to get through the game (against the host Ducks) and make that decision.”
Irving will see his first NHL action since surrendering six goals in 26 minutes during the 9-0 loss to the Boston Bruins Jan. 5. He was sent to the AHL Abbotsford Heat when Henrik Karlsson came off the injury list and played a pair of games for the Heat. He was summoned Sunday, so Karlsson could have a two-week conditioning assignment after missing two months due to a knee injury.
In four NHL appearances this season, Irving has a 1-1-2 record with a 3.67 goals-against average and a .908 save percentage.
OFF THE GLASS
Ducks defenceman Toni Lydman says he can remember every goal. However, he needed to be reminded the part he played for the Flames in the Jan. 19, 2004 game, a 5-1 victory against the host Ducks, which was also the last time the Flames won in Disneyland prior to puck-drop Monday night. Lydman’s goal tied the game, and then Roman Turek backstopped the Flames to victory. “That’s a while ago. Now, you make me feel old. That’s what you wanted to do,” Lydman charged … Former Flames winger Niklas Hagman, who the Ducks claimed off re-entry waivers back in November, was rejuvenated with the move to Anaheim but has struggled for the past while. He went into Monday’s outing with just one goal in 17 games. “There are times you can see why he was a 28-goal scorer, and there are times when he works and gets opportunity after opportunity but seems like he’s shooting everything five feet wide,” said Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau. “It’s never for a lack of work. Sometimes, his hands are great, and sometimes, his hands are moving too quick for his body.” … LW Devante Smith-Pelly, who suffered a broken bone in his foot while blocking a shot for Team Canada during the world junior hockey championship, was sent by the Ducks to the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch for conditioning. Smith-Pelly made the Ducks out of training camp and has three goals, five points and a minus-10 rating in 26 NHL games … Ducks D Luca Sbisa has a nasty bit of road rash on his face after crashing his pedal-bike Saturday night. He was talking on his cellphone at the time, rubbed the curb and fell face-first. Since he’s alright, Sbisa’s teammates found the humour. “His bicycle’s alright,” goalie Jonas Hiller told the Orange County Register. “It was protected well because of the face.”
On Twitter: @SUNRandySportak