Driving force

TODD SAELHOF -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 2:54 PM ET


 Call it another milestone for Jarome Iginla.

 Monday night's winning goal gave him the second 50-goal season of his NHL career.

 Unofficially, of course, since playoff goals don't count toward seasonal statistics.

 "That's funny," said Iginla, the wheels in his mind turning quickly to add his 41 regular-season goals to the nine, and counting, scored in these NHL playoffs. "I never thought of it."

 Iginla's centreman Craig Conroy wasn't surprised.

 "I thought he was going to score 50 in the regular season," he said. "But it's not about that anymore. It's about winning the (Stanley) Cup."

 Yet without Iginla's contributions, it's unlikely the Flames would even be a playoff team, let alone find themselves one win away from the Stanley Cup finals.

 Iginla's winner on a breakaway in Game 5 was just a snapshot of the success he's had in leading the Flames to this point of the Western Conference final.

 "It's just been a very exciting year," said Iginla, sporting his trademark smile. "The whole year has been the best for me professionally."

 And he's not the only one enjoying the ride.

 His teammates, the city and, arguably, all of Canada are reaping the benefits.

 When Iginla first officially reached the milestone -- during a 52-goal campaign in 2001-02 -- he gained the respect of his peers, winning the Lester B. Pearson MVP award as voted by the players. He won the Rocket Richard and Art Ross trophies and was nominated for the Hart Trophy as the NHL's most valuable player.

 But this time around, it's about more than individual accolades.

 "Like we said, it's not about any individual," Conroy said. "It's about this team and that's what makes it fun for us.

 "The last few years, we were going for individual awards -- him for most goals and for the scoring title. That's what kept pushing us down the stretch when we were out of the playoffs.

 "But that's fun for only a few guys. That's not fun for everyone on the team or fun for the city.

 "Right now, we're all about Chuck Kobasew scoring a goal for us (tonight) and if Dave Lowry comes in and does something great for us. We're all about winning the game (today) as a team."

 But as the Flames look to prove they're the best team of the 16 that began the post-season, Iginla is still the key.

 "Yeah ... we need Jarome to score goals," Conroy said. "Forty-one got us to where we wanted to be and the nine is getting us to where we want to go."

 With more likely on the way from the Flames captain.

 "You never know what's going to happen in the playoffs," Conroy continued. "It is so hard and he's playing against the top defensive guys night-in and night-out. I've never seen it as hard as it's been right from the Vancouver series.

 "It didn't get any easier against Detroit. And now it's just as hard against San Jose. But he is finding a way to get it done.

 "That's what makes him special. That's what makes him a goal-scorer and a superstar in the league."

 That's what makes him a 50-goal scorer.

 Again.


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