Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Good Iggy

Mark Spector describes Jarome Iginla as the best hockey player in Canada:


They are the answer to the question of how players like Guy Carbonneau and Gary Roberts hang on to National Hockey League jobs long after their peak playing days have ended. And they are the reason Alexei Kovalev can drive Canadiens fans crazy.

They are the reason the Vancouver Canucks have gone from the group that would finally bring a Stanley Cup to the West Coast, to a dysfunctional team that can't put together three decent efforts in a row. And the reason why Jarome Iginla is this column's pick as the best hockey player Canada has.
Fair enough. Except, after that nice introduction, there is no other mention of Iginla in the article. To back up his piece, Mark decides, not to point out what Iggy has done for the Calgary Flames this season (and he has done a lot), but instead to point out what the Vancouver Canucks and the Edmonton Oilers haven't.
When your leaders come up small in the big games, as has happened with Edmonton and Vancouver countless times this season, it has a resonating effect. Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish calls it "gamesmanship." It's a polite term for guts.
More on what he says about the Oilers:
Edmonton, like Vancouver, becomes like a batter with the bases empty, trying to erase a four-run deficit with one swing. They are easy prey for a smart pitcher, or in this case, for a savvy team like Calgary, whose game plan is to prey on mistakes. A 1-0 score is more likely to become 3-0 than 1-1, once panic sets in against a savvy team that has scored the first goal.
And on the Canucks:
The Todd Bertuzzi-Markus Naslund-Brendan Morrison line that should be carrying the Canucks through tough times is so bereft of consistency that head coach Marc Crawford gives them only a couple of shifts per night before mixing up his lines. The end result in a key game at Anaheim Sunday night was a Vancouver team that scored first, later allowed two Anaheim goals in 12 seconds in the opening period, then simply didn't have the intangibles necessary to fight back.
If Mark can't think of anything good to say about Iggy to back up his piece, I'm going to give him a hand. Considering the season that Iggy has had, it's quite easy - he leads the team in goals (32), points (60) and shots (266); he is second in the team in powerplay goals (14), powerplay points (27) and game-winning goals (6); he leads all forwards in average ice-time per game (21:41), almost four minutes more than the next forward (Daymond Langkow's 18:08); and he has a plus-6 rating.

Leadership? While Mike Peca is already planning his free agency exit from Edmonton, and numerous rumors swirl about the split in the Canucks' dressing room, Iggy's Flames seem to get along just fine.

And Iggy's team? First-place in the Northwest Division, while the Canucks and the Oilers fight for the last playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Out West, the road to the Stanley Cup still goes through Calgary. It's a road the Flames know well, their biggest advantage over the Canucks and Oilers.
I agree. But Iggy and the Flames have proven it themselves. No need to knock down the 'Nucks and the 'Oil to prove it.

Comments/Questions: Feel free to post in the comments section or email me at gocanucksgo10 (at) hotmail (dot) com.

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posted by J.J. Guerrero, 10:24 PM


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