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Flames hope captain gets fired up

by Todd Kimberley
CALGARY, Alberta -- Talk, as the saying goes, is cheap.

But the Calgary Flames also hope talk is also the sort of thing that can awaken their slumbering superstar, Jarome Iginla.

There was plenty of chatter on both sides of the fence Tuesday about the trash talk -- and the skirmishes -- that concluded Game 3 of this Western Conference Quarterfinal series at the Pengrowth Saddledome on Monday night.

In the thick of 10 angry bodies was a lidless Iginla, looking for a dance partner, as the Flames put the finishing touches on a 4-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks.

Game 4 goes Wednesday night at the Saddledome (10 p.m. ET, Versus, TSN), and Flames center Craig Conroy thinks the Blackhawks should beware.

"It's always a good thing for us when Jarome gets that fired up," Conroy said after the Flames’ practice Tuesday afternoon. "When he’s on that edge, that’s when he’s playing his best hockey."

"I like when he's got that, because it gives him a little extra drive. He hits a little harder. He finishes checks. He goes to the net. He battles. It’s a good thing."

There’s been concern in Calgary over the Flames’ star power going AWOL down the stretch and into this first round of playoffs. Olli Jokinen hasn’t scored a goal since March 14. Todd Bertuzzi hasn’t lit the lamp since March 1. Daymond Langkow has two goals since his March 10 return from injury.

And Iginla, the Flames’ captain, hasn’t exactly been lighting it up lately -- he had eight in his final 12 regular-season games and just two points in the Flames' three playoff games.

Has this war of words proved to be a catalyst for No. 12?

"Oh, I can take that. Verbal abuse is nothing. Trash talking is fine," Iginla said.

"I don’t know about mad. 'Involved,' I think, is the word. I think we're all involved.

"Even in Chicago, when we were carrying the play, when we were dominating some of those periods, it was when we were physical and aggressive. We’ve got a lot of guys who naturally play that way, and play their best in that situation.

"This is great," Iginla added. "This is what playoffs are supposed to be about."

The Blackhawks, who lead this best-of-7 series two games to one, aren’t worried about bringing an angry Iginla to life.

"I think everyone's fired up at this time of the year," said forward Ben Eager, Chicago’s penalty minutes leader with 161. "He’s going to come out and play hard. He’s a great player. I know we’ve got guys who are fired up to play, and we play tough too."

"Not at all," said Dustin Byfuglien, another tough customer. "It’s part of the game, and that’s how it’s got to go. Everyone has their ups and downs, and there are certain ways they get fired up.

"We’re not worried at all. We’re just going to . . . make this series a good battle the whole way through."

As part of Monday’s game-ending skirmish, ’Hawks center Adam Burish cross-checked Calgary’s Rene Bourque in the shoulder, breaking his stick in the process.

Calgary coach Mike Keenan, who said Bourque is “day to day as a result of the incident (Monday) night,” campaigned again Tuesday for a suspension to Burish.

The NHL did not take disciplinary action or comment on the incident.

"There’s no place in the game for those tactics," Keenan said. "The League doesn’t want it. The game doesn’t need it."

"It's always a good thing for us when Jarome gets that fired up.  When he’s on that edge, that’s when he’s playing his best hockey." -- Craig Conroy on Jarome Iginla
Burish repeated Tuesday that he hadn’t been concerned about a suspension.

"I wasn’t too worried about it, to be honest with you," he said. "I knew what happened. I knew what I did. I knew the reason I did it.

"It's playoff hockey. It’s the same reason they’re hitting our guys, the same reason they come at me, the same reason I’m going to go at them. Mike Keenan . . . called it a cross-check to the head. There’s enough cameras around here, from what I see right now, if you take a look at it, it wasn’t too close to the head."

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