Hannan will be handful

TODD SAELHOF -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 12:40 PM ET

 They say you can't keep a good man down.

 And so it goes that way with Jarome Iginla.

  The Vancouver Canucks tried with Mattias Ohlund.

 And the Detroit Red Wings tried with Derian Hatcher and Nicklas Lidstrom.

 But Iginla's still standing after the first-round battle with Ohlund and the second-round war with Hatcher and Lidstrom.

 So bring on the Sharks and a new, no-name brand of would-be blueline warriors ready to keep Iginla from his appointed goals and assists.

 Scott Hannan? Mike Rathje?

 Not exactly household names in the NHL.

 "I think it's because they're younger," said Iginla.

 "It's part of being up-and-coming. They probably haven't gotten the credit or limelight yet. As our guys on defence are starting to get more recognition for all their work and how good they are, that's probably the same as in San Jose. They just haven't got the recognition yet."

 But they are about to get Iginla, who is once again relishing the challenge of being matched against the best blueliners his playoff opponent has to offer.

 "It's something that it is," said Iginla with his trademark grin and team highs in goals (6) and points (12). "It's enjoyable to have that same challenge game-in and game-out, play the same team for a few games and try and win the battles consistently. And if you lose one battle, you get a chance to go out next shift or next game to win the next one. The whole battle, it's fun to be a part of. And when you're done, it's great to look back on it and think how tough it was to get by."

 Just how tough is it to get by Hannan and Rathje? For what it's worth, Hannan handled Avalanche superstar Peter Forsberg in the second round, although Forsberg was slowed by a groin injury, while Rathje's 6-ft., 5-in. reach makes him an undervalued defensive commodity.

 "If you look, they remind me of Ohlund but there's two of them," said Iginla's centre Craig Conroy. "They play well together. They read off each other. They don't take a ton of chances. And defensively, they're very sound. They're not as flashy as some guys, but they get jobs done. They win little one-on-one battles -- that's what they're very good at."

 Hannan and Rathje are also backed by a good supporting cast. Kyle McLaren and Brad Stuart will also be on hand to man the blueline against Iginla, Conroy and either Chris Simon, Martin Gelinas or Oleg Saprykin.

 "I look at it like playing Keith Tkachuk," said Rathje of guarding against Iginla. "He's got speed, a good shot and makes plays. He's always going to be in your face. We don't want to give him any room or any time and we have to watch the guys around him at the same time. We've gotten tuned up because of Colorado, so I think we'll be on our toes."

 Added Hannan: "They always talk about matchups. The best thing about our team is it's not just one person against another. Our top four defencemen play against the top players and you can even say our top six do, too. That's the way we've played all year ."


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