Iggy and Conny must loom large

TODD SAELHOF -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 3:23 PM ET


 Big games call for big-game players.

 And since it hardly gets any bigger than Game 5 of the Stanley Cup final, the Calgary Flames are calling on their captain today against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

 He, of course, is big-game sensation Jarome Iginla.

 And with NHL history squarely on the side of the Game 5 winner in a tied championship series -- only four of 18 teams who have lost the fifth game of a seven-game final series have rebounded to win the Cup -- Iginla boasts remarkable Game 5 history on his side to help favour the Flames.

 The captain has two game-winning Game 5 goals and has assisted on the other Game 5 game-winner in the 2004 NHL playoffs.

 "I guess because it's very exciting," said Iginla, when asked about his penchant for being the difference in the three previous Game 5s played by the Flames in this post-season.

 "This is what you dream about. The more that's on the line, the more fun it is to play and the more fun it is to win."

 What fun it has been in Game 5s for the Flames, given the fact they are a perfect 3-for-3 in fifth games against the Vancouver Canucks, Detroit Red Wings and San Jose Sharks.

 Thanks mainly to Iginla.

 Versus the host Canucks on April 15, Iginla tallied a third-period deflection goal off Andrew Ference's shot to score the winner in a 2-1 Flames victory.

 Then on May 1, the captain assisted on Craig Conroy's pretty marker over the short-side shoulder of Curtis Joseph -- the only goal in a 1-0 shutout against the host Red Wings.

 Finally, Iginla sunk the host Sharks with a timely shorthanded breakaway goal in the first period to pace the Flames to a 3-0 win May 18.

 "He's done a good job for us all season long," said teammate Robyn Regehr, who points to Iginla leading the league in goals in both the regular season (41) and playoffs (12). "The bigger the game, the bigger the effort we seem to get from him. But we can't sit back and wait for him to do something."

 Certainly, Iginla can't do it all.

 In fact, the right-winger has endured his struggles already in the final series because others around him have failed to bring their 'A' game.

 Most notably, his right-hand man, centreman Conroy, has been invisible through the first four games of the final despite an assist in Game 1.

 It's a far cry from when Conroy was at his best in Game 6 against the Sharks, when he made both plays that led to the series-clinching goals by Iginla and Martin Gelinas.

 "Craig has been outstanding for us all playoffs," said Iginla, pointing to Conroy's 16 points -- tied for fifth among post-season scoring leaders.

 "He raised his game in Game 6 against San Jose. It was one of the best games I've ever seen him play. He was unbelievable. Same with Game 7 against Vancouver.

 "So in a big game, he'd be a guy to watch."

 Second to Iginla himself, of course.


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