February 22 2010 08:46AM
It's been an up and down Olympics for Team Canada forward Jarome Iginla, not unlike his season with the Calgary Flames. Some pretty good highs, and some pretty invisible periods which you can classify as lows. And after a 5-3 win loss to Team USA on Sunday night, I'm still not sure what to make of Jarome Iginla, Team Canada Edition.
In his first game, I wrote about how he gelled and meshed with linemates Sidney Crosby and Rick Nash. He scored three goals that game in under 10 minutes of ice time, and he clearly earned a shot to start on that top unit at the beginning of Canada's second game. And he did, but the results weren't great. In fact, Iginla was yanked from the Crosby-Nash unit in the second period of that game.
Canada's 3-2 shootout win over Switzerland saw Iginla's useage scaled back throughout — so much so that he was the main topic on our FAN 960 postgame show. He played just two minutes in the third period and didn't see the game once in overtime, making some wonder whether there was some sort of injury.However, Mike Babcock said following the game that it wasn't an injury — so it was performance related. Fair enough; he wasn't great. He wasn't nearly as engaged as he needs to be against the Swiss, was easier to push off the puck, and wasn't really a factor most of the time while he was on the ice.
So, it's game three for Canada, their biggest test yet, against the Americans. The big story was that Flyers captain Mike Richards would start on the Crosby-Nash line, and he did. That didn't last long. The coaching staff was pretty quick to go back to Patrice Bergeron in that game, and then eventually to #12. Iginla started on a 4th line rotation with Jonathan Toews, Brenden Morrow and Bergeron. But by the end of the game, that changed.
Iginla saw some powerplay time on the top unit in the second period, and Canada trailed the US 3-2 after two periods of play. But it seemed the coaching staff decided to go back to the well in the final frame, and I think we saw something once again. Iginla saw time with Crosby and Nash for most of the third period... and we saw some chemistry once again.
It was most evident late in the third, when Canada had got themselves back within one: Iginla was on the ice for a dominating shift that lasted almost 90 seconds. Canada got three or four quality scoring opportunities, only to be robbed by Ryan Miller in the US net each time. Iginla was a big part of that, and you started to think that maybe there was something there
Almost unanimously on our postgame show on The FAN 960 on Sunday, the feeling was Iginla should get another shot on that top unit. And why not? Canada needs to get something going quick, as they enter single elimination play on Tuesday against Germany. I think Iginla earned another shot with Crosby and Nash to start Tuesday. The problem is, he needs to prove he should stick there. He needs to be the factor he was on Canada's third goal, when Miller cheated towards him in the slot and gave Crosby the opening he needed to score. If we see that, maybe we'll be correct in saying there's something there. If he doesn't, and it's the same old story — wondering just where he fits.