The 3-3-2 Flames sit tied in last place of the Northwest Division, six points behind the leading Canucks although they do have two games in hand against Vancouver. In a 48 game season, the Flames can’t afford to fall behind early, especially considering they’ve already lost to the Canucks in a 3-2 shootout defeat on Jan. 23.
Calgary will need its captain to step up and deliver his best game of the season to date, despite struggling through the first eight games of the season. Iginla has recorded one goal and five assists, and is currently on a three game point streak, so it’s not like he isn’t producing. However the team still needs more from the franchise’s greatest player.
He’s a notoriously slow starter, which is why it took him until the seventh game of the season to record his first goal of the year, but it’s time for Iginla to deliver an impact performance.
The team needs him more than ever now that the injury bug has taken a toll on the roster. Miikka Kiprusoff and Mikael Backlund were both placed on the injured reserved after they both suffered injuries to their knee. Kiprusoff is arguably even more important to the Flames than Iginla is, which makes his absence only more necessary for the captain to step up with a dominate performance.
His linemate, Alex Tanguay, leads Calgary in scoring with four goals and five assists for a total of nine points. Iginla and Tanguay have great chemistry together and they’ll need to show it against the Canucks to keep the Flames in the always heated and competitive Western Conference playoff race.
After already losing to Vancouver once this season, Calgary can’t afford to fall to them twice in just over two weeks. A victory would be a major boost for the injury-riddled, roster while a loss could result in more discussions about a possible rebuild. A win or loss against the Canucks won’t be the deciding factor as to whether or not the team chooses to blow up the roster, but it could be the small snowball that begins to roll downhill with the risk of growing larger and larger.
If Iginla can’t deliver his best game of the season against Vancouver, then the Flames could see the beginning of the snowball process.