Ohlund prepared for duel

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 2:20 PM ET


 VANCOUVER -- When the Flames-Canucks series ends, it'll be worth watching Jarome Iginla and Mattias Ohlund during the handshakes.

 That's when they'll finally be allowed to acknowledge each other in the way they truly feel. In all the games leading up to that moment, the best one-on-one battle between the teams won't be pretty.

 On one hand you have Iginla, Calgary's 41-goal leader in so many ways. However, his goals don't come the way fellow Rocket Richard Trophy co-winners Rick Nash and Ilya Kovalchuk net theirs. Iginla's a crasher and banger as much as a sniper, therefore capable of giving defenders fits.

 Ohlund will be there to answer the challenge. Strong, agile and great positionally, he'll have the tall order of keeping Iginla in check.

 For as many games as it takes for one side to vanquish the other and move to the second round, they'll battle like two rams.

 Except there may be a facewash or two for good measure.

 In the end, though, both will likely leave the ice respecting the other. Kudos, on the eve of a playoff series, are muffled for now.

 "He's got most of the things you want. He's skilled and very strong," Ohlund said of Iginla.

 "We played five or six games against him during the season and seen a lot of ice time against him over the years. When I play my best, it's when I play physical and, I think, with him it's the same thing.

 "I play hard for my team and he plays hard for his."

 When the league's top defencemen are listed, Ohlund is often overlooked. The 6-ft. 2-in., 220-lb. defender averaged a team-high 25 minutes per game. His plus-14 rating came with a career-best 14 goals.

 In six meetings this season, Iginla netted three goals. Sure, that equates into a 41-goal campaign but one was on the powerplay and another was an empty netter. Only one was at even strength.

 Ohlund said in the past the key to keeping Iginla in check is being physical and keeping his scoring chances to the outside.

 "He plays hard, he's such a good player, you can't just rely on one or two guys," said Ohlund, adding Iginla will get his chances. "You have to have five guys playing good defence against him. He's not the only guy on that team that can score goals, they do have some good offensive talent."


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