Hockey is a team game and it just isn't fair to call one player out very often. Especially one that is worshipped as a deity in Cowtown. It borders on the blasphemous but imo Iginla cost the Flames at the very least a point last night if not two.
One of the best things about the Flames Captain though is that he doesn't shelter himself from criticism. He stands up and answers. He takes responsibility. (Calgary Herald)
"You know, in the last 10 minutes, I started feeling pretty good," the captain said Saturday in the aftermath of a 3-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. "Unfortunately, it was a little too late. ~ Jarome Iginla
Admitting that you played for 10 min when the whole world knows the only way the Flames are going to win this year is if every player turns in a full 60 min effort is very telling. The Flames got up to a quick 2 goal lead and for a chunk of time there it looked like they were going to pull a few points out of Toronto. Especially after an epic PK on a 5 on 3 and 5 on 4.
For whatever reason, I have no idea why, especially on the road. The Iggy line started playing run and gun - pond hockey. Flash and dash which started opening up odd-man rushes back for Toronto. They let them back in the game.
This line was directly responsible for the Toronto rushes that resulted in the two catch-up goals but these two times were not the only times they did it. There were several scoring chances for Toronto that were direct results of irresponsible play in the Toronto zone while the Iggy line was on the ice.
More rare Iggy critique and then all the positives for the rest of the team in the losing effort after the jump.
Jarome failed to finish on two perfect passes which would have been easy goals for him if he was in NHL form but that is not the worst of it. The worst of it was the utterly irresponsible play in the Toronto zone. That was the game. Why on the road this style of play was adopted by the line is a mystery to me. (Notice how I am not saying 1st line)
The rest of the forwards are not playing this style.
In fact Olli Jokinen and Curtis Glencross are both off to excellent starts and playing strong two-way hockey. In fact I have seen strong moments from almost all other Flames at one point or another, except for maybe Anton Babchuk and Henrik Karlsson.
The Joker and GlenX are the two shining Flames at this point in the season. Yes I said it and people must be falling off their chairs but 4 games in both the Joker and GlenX have both looked superior to the Incredible Iginla.
Maybe that is the issue for a man who has owned the Calgary Flames for his entire career?
I am not going to float that statement without back-up. I am not the only one who noticed the Joker's and GlenX's high level game last night. Check out Pat Steinberg's Flames Nation's Post Game Recap.
What would be the response out there if Joker started slow every year. What would be the response if Joker took a road game where the Flames had the upper hand and started playing flash and dash - pond hockey because he was looking for goals? Drawn and quartered would be the kind anticipations. Yet the mainstream media predictably soft peddles Iginla instead of calling him out hard.
Brent Sutter looked visibly furious and frustrated after the game and understandably so, put yourself in his position.
What does he do? What can he do?
He is forced to give Jarome his 20 min of ice-time so that he can get himself up to NHL speed but it is at the cost of the game and two points. Sutter probably wants to demote Iginla to the third line and promote Bourque up to play with Tanguay but imagine the media meltdown in Calgary if he does such a thing. His hands are tied and how frustrating can that be. Tanguay is doing fine thanks but he is caught in the trap of Iginla's high risk positioning. Moss is trying to be Superman in his own zone trying to do all the D work for the line while Iggy cheats up ice.
It is an impossible situation and in a season where "Every Game Matters" is Iginla's ego just so frustrated at this point and so used to being the top man in Flames scoring is the fact that 9 Flames players are above him in scoring, 4 games in, making him play irresponsibly?
Joker, GlenX, Hagman, Tangs, Bork, Gio, Stempy and even 3-4 D men Butler and Hannan have more points than Iginla - is this making him play like a fool in a mad dash to get personal points and goals?
The Flames fought through several challenges in Toronto. The PK looked great. The Joker line in particular looked great aside from a sleepy moment to start the third. The third period saw the team start to tail off and ironically this is the moment in time when Iginla felt he was playing his best hockey. Coincidence?
How frustrated must Brent Sutter be at this point in time? If personal goals are ahead of team goals, well, we may as well pack it up for the season and go looking for a top 5 pick. May as well tank it.
Jarome will eventually find his game and the back of the net but how many early games will his NHL conditioning cost the Flames?
I expect more and more high scoring games but the problem this season with run and gun for the Flames is that no longer is an epic D playing behind Jarome. It is no longer that top D it used to be and Kipper, well, we know Kipper has magical saves in him but overall he is not going to be able to stop constant odd-man rushes back up the ice every time Jarome steps on it. That is what was happening in Toronto last night
The future of the team in the early season rests in the hands of the forwards who are not playing with Iggy. Can they carry the team and drag him along with it to get the early points they absolutely must have to make the playoffs this year?