So, I’ve got it! I’ve figured out how to spur Jarome Iginla into the 50-goal product he was 2 seasons ago! (I’m a genius). Bring in Sidney Crosby and Rick Nash, and you’ve got it made. I can’t believe I didn’t think of this before! In all seriousness, a great outing to start for Team Canada and that Iginla guy didn’t fare too well either.
Just for the sake of clarity, Jarome DOES indeed have a hat trick — the 8th goal in Canada’s 8-0 win over Norway has officially been credited to him. It certainly was an interesting game in a lot of facets, but focusing on Iggy is what I wanted to do for the FN faithful. It’s funny… the pulse on our postgame show on The FAN 960 seemed to be, "See, I told ya this guy was still a stud" with a little, "Come on, don’t get too excited, it’s Norway" mixed in for good measure. I fall somewhere in the middle.
Look, obviously everyone was going to look just a little bigger, faster, stronger and more skilled against the Norwegian team. Lets face it, that’s not even an NHL caliber team let alone a team able to skate with the best assembled national teams in the world. They were able to keep things "competitive" in the first frame, but when the flood gates opened, Norway was overwhelmed.
What I liked about this game from a Canadian perspective was how they were able to iron out some of their chemistry and familiarity issues fairly quickly. Obviously a lot of things might be hidden against a mediocre opponent, but I really felt Iginla was a big part of the Canadian team getting in sync. After 20 minutes, I had written down two names of guys who had really stood out to me. Iginla and Shea Weber, for the same reasons. I felt both had gone out of their way to force their issue on their opponents, and I think for Iginla’s sake, it caught the eye of the Team Canada coaching staff.
Iginla started the game on a "4th line" with Brenden Morrow and Jonathan Toews, and saw a little first period powerplay time as well. He laid out a big hit on Norway Player X in the first period, which got my attention, and I wonder if it might have got Mike Babcock’s. In the 2nd period, Canada was awarded their 3rd powerplay of the game, and Iginla was put with Sidney Crosby and Rick Nash in a man up situation. Very shortly into said powerplay, Doughty finds Crosby who finds Iggy and bam, this game is effectively over.
As the game went along, Iginla played a few more shifts on that "4th line" but was with Crosby and Nash for the majority of the final 40 minutes, and for good reason…he earned it. That line was first put together at the beginning of orientation camp, which I had the pleasure of attending here in Calgary back in August. They showed some chemistry to start, but were broken up by the end of it… but Babcock knew there was something there, and went back to it in this game, and clearly it paid off.
What I liked most was HOW Iginla scored his goals. The final goal was him driving to the net and tipping home a Rick Nash shot. The other goals were on nice passes with Iginla finishing. His first goal was textbook Jarome. He found the soft spot, sat back, and wired a perfect pass home.
Now, how does this apply to the Flames? Well, I don’t really think Crosby or Nash caliber players will be joining the team anytime soon. BUT what it does show is that if Iginla has someone adept at distributing the puck, he can finish. Is Matt Stajan on the level of Sidney Crosby? Clearly, no. But he does have an ability to move the puck around to players, and we’ve seen that in a limited body of work playing with Iginla. If Jarome can keep playing the way he did down the stretch leading up to the break, and if Stajan can remain a steady puck distributing center…I think we could see some success. Maybe not Crosby-Nash-Iginla success…but lets not forget, Iginla’s a big part of that, as I don’t believe Patrice Bergeron would have been scoring 3 had he remained on that line.