Based on recent history it seems one of two things will happen as the Nashville Predators progress through their four-game season series with the Calgary Flames.
Either A) Nashville’s players finally figure out how to handle Flames’ forward Jarome Iginla; or B) the perennial All-Star simply tires of battering the Preds.
Whichever it is, Nashville is hopeful that history repeats itself Friday when the Predators and Flames meet for the final time this season, 8 p.m. (CST) in Calgary (Fox Sports-Tennessee, Comcast Ch. 28).
Each of the last two seasons, Iginla has been held without a point in the fourth and final meeting. That’s in stark contrast to what has preceded those games. Since the start of the 2007-08 season Iginla has racked up 18 points (11 goals, seven assists) in 11 contests against Nashville. That stretch includes three two-goal games and one hat trick (Oct. 23, 2008).
“He’s been a thorn in our (butt) for whatever reason,” Nashville coach Barry Trotz said Thursday afternoon from Calgary. “He plays really well against us. We’re just one of those teams that he plays well against, and you can’t really put your finger on it as to why.”
Iginla has six points (three goals, three assists) and a plus-3 rating with at least one point in the three meetings (two Calgary victories) this season. In the lone Nashville victory – 5-3 on Dec. 19 — he had a hand in all of the Flames’ scoring with two goals and an assist.
He is the all-time leader in goals against the Predators with 26 and, with 26 goals and 24 assists in 39 career meetings, is one of just two players with 50 career points against Nashville. Detroit’s Niklas Lidstrom is the other.
He comes into this game, though, having been held without a point since the last time Nashville and Calgary played, which was on Jan. 5. His current five-game scoreless streak is his longest of the season.
“We need to be better as a line, we need to create a little bit more and more consistently,” Iginla said. “If we keep pushing, staying positive, we’re going to find ways to score goals. We have before. We’re doing good things and we will again.”
Of particular concern to Trotz this time is the fact that the Flames have lost two straight (one in overtime) coming into this one. In so doing, they have fallen to fifth in the conference standings, one point behind Nashville.
“He’s their leader …and one of their players who steps up when needed,” Trotz said. “He’s a great player and a good leader. He brings that sense of urgency whenever they have to have it.”