Northwest: Iginla’s savvy play keeping Flames in the playoff hunt

By Blake Benzel

Photo: Veteran NHL forward and Calgary Flames captain Jarome Iginla is doing his part to keep the Flames in the hunt for the Western Conference’s final playoff berth (courtesy of

Tony Medina/Icon SMI)

The Calgary Flames are pushing for their first playoff birth since the 2008-09 season, so winning every game over the last week, and going 6-1-1 since the start of March, is a pretty big deal. The downside, though, is that they are chasing the Colorado Avalanche, who are 3-0-1 in their last four games. Both teams are represented in this week’s three stars, along with a member of one of the Northwest Division’s have-nots in the playoff race.

Here are the three stars of the week in the Northwest Division for Mar. 9-15

First Star: Jarome Iginla, RW, Calgary Flames –
With the Flames smack dab in the middle of a push for the playoffs, there is no player more important to their success than their captain and best player, Jarome Iginla. In four games this week, the Flames went 4-0-0 and central to that was Iginla and his eight points (4G, 4A), including a three-point performance against the Winnipeg Jets on Mar. 9. In addition to his eight points, Iginla was a solid plus-three and also fired off 11 shots, all while leading a push that has the Flames tied with the San Jose Sharks for ninth in the West, just one point behind the Colorado Avalanche.

Second Star: Devan Dubnyk, G, Edmonton Oilers
The Oilers may be well out of playoff contention, but that doesn’t mean that players aren’t getting a solid look with the future of the franchise in mind ,and the 25-year-old Dubnyk is one of those players. Dubnyk played in two of Edmonton’s three games over the past week, winning both games with a 1.51 goals-against average, a .945 save percentage and one shutout, with both wins coming in regulation.

Third Star: Semyon Varlamov, Colorado Avalanche –
The Avalanche are in eighth in the West and their success – more to the point, Varlamov’s success – in the shootout is a big reason why. Varlamov went 3-0-0 over the last week, with all three wins coming in the shootout. In his three wins, he had a 1.88 goals-against average and a .931 save percentage.

Northwest Division Notes

Flames rookie Sven Baertschi has scored goals in three straight games. Baertschi scored his latest just 17 seconds into the game in Calgary’s 4-1 win over the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday. … Oilers prospect David Musil will be out for the rest of the season after the WHL’s Vancouver Giants announced that he will undergo season-ending wrist surgery … Wild captain Mikko Koivu practiced without a non-contact jersey on Thursday for the first time since his most recent shoulder injury. No decision has been made as to whether or not Koivu will suit up in Saturday’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes. Goaltender Niklas Backstrom (lower body) also participated fully in practice.

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