Monday, April 19, 2004

It's All About Jarome!

For Vancouver it was 30 seconds from disaster, six seconds to heaven, then a minute and twenty five seconds to finality.

For Calgary on Monday night it was all about Jarome Iginla, the Calgary captain stepped up to upper stardom with his one man show at GM Place, the term franchise player gets used an awful lot these days but in this instance if the skate fits, you have to admit.

Iginla was the story in the series and in Game 7, his playmaking ability, his hits, his shot and most of all his leadership. Lesser players would have sulked about a missed penalty call and a stumble at centre ice which turned into an opposition goal. Instead Iginila took his team into the dressing room and came out ready to roll in Overtime.

Iginla had the chance to put away the Vancouver Canucks in regulation time, with thirty seconds to go on Monday night, flying down the left wing Iginla fired a puck wide of the empty Canuck net, missing it by a couple of inches. Heading back to the Flame end, Iginla had his stick knocked from his hands, and then tripped at centre ice ending up out of the play. Markus Naslund took advantage of the missing player to take the puck behind the Flames net, pushing it out to the front where Matt Cooke knocked it in with six seconds to go sending game seven to Overtime.

A frantic finish to a low scoring tightly checked three periods of play. Iginla and Cooke traded off goals, as both scored twice in the highly entertaining 60 minutes of hockey. Neither team wanting to admit that the end might be near.

A rest and then came sudden death overtime, the point of hockey that every child has played out on his mind on a pond, a rink or a street. You’re the goaltender who has to make the big save, you’re the go to guy, with the pressure on it’s your shot that sends your team on to greater things.

Tonight Miikka Kiprusoff was the goaltender, Martin Gelinas the scorer, but Jarome Iginla the hero.

Both teams had players in the penalty box to start the overtime period, a carry over from the regulation time. The Flames had Ferrence in for twelve seconds, the Canucks Jovanovski for over a minute. The Canucks gave up the blue line and Iginla brought the puck into the Canuck end of the rink, from the left wing he fired a shot at the Canuck net, Alex Auld made two spectacular saves but couldn’t control that third rebound, Gelinas all alone at the side of the net punched it in sending the Flames off to Detroit with a 4-2 win.

The discipline of the Flames was the highlight of this series, knock them down they bounced right back. Beat them in triple overtime, they came right back. The determination of Calgary to keep at it shows just how much Darryl Sutter has brought to this team in his short tenure at the helm.

The ability to bring the best out of Iginla, to take a young team and have them play with the poise of a veteran squad, not fearing a mistake, sucking it up and going back out shift after shift and taking it back. A team that was battered, bruised and short of key players found a way to stay in a hard fought seven game series. Injuries to those players may not bode well for round two, but somehow you get the feeling that somebody in a Flame uniform is going to step up and fill in just fine thank you.

Seven years they’ve missed the playoffs, 15 years since they’ve won a series, that one a season that gave them a Cup. This is a team that will be reckoned with, maybe not this year, but the way they’re playing don’t put destiny past them. This team believes in itself right now, of the remaining teams left in the Stanley Cup Derby they are playing as a TEAM, a most important ingredient for success.

If Detroit thought that they had their hands full with Nashville, hold onto your helmets here come Jarome and the Flames. Dismiss their chances at your peril!

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