It’s tough to say a team that has reached the Stanley Cup Final in two of the past three seasons has had a glaring weakness. But at times, the Bruins have certainly lacked a dynamic goal-scoring threat, as evidenced by sometimes too frequent goal-scoring droughts.
The B’s made an attempt to remedy that last year when they looked to acquire Jarome Iginla at the deadline. That infamously didn’t work out, and they settled for Jaromir Jagr, which wasn’t exactly a home run. When Iginla came to the Bruins this offseason looking for a job, though, it made sense that the B’s would be interested. They were, and the two sides came to terms on an agreement.
While the Bruins knew they weren’t getting the Iginla who averaged 35 goals per season during his prime, there was plenty of reason to believe the 36-year-old, who has 530 goals to his name, would generate a spark in the offensive zone and on the power play. So far, however, that hasn’t been the case. Iginla has just one point — an assist — in his first five games with the Bruins.
But Iginla isn’t too worried yet.
“Unfortunately I’ve been here many times,” he said after the Bruins’ 3-2 loss to Detroit on Monday. “It’s all part of the game, and you just try to work hard and keep going and keep getting the chances and always keep saying that the next one is going to go in. … I’ve been here before, and you just keep working through it and stay positive and keep trying to get open and like I say, keep believing the next one goes in.”
The winger has indeed been here before, especially at the beginning of a season. Whether it’s taking him longer to get going as he gets older or just by happenstance, Iginla has made a habit of starting slowly in recent years.
He didn’t score his first goal until Calgary’s seventh game last season. The season before he scored just two goals in his first 10 games and in 2010-11, he potted just a pair of tallies in his first 15 games. But like he said, it eventually comes around. In those three seasons, Iginla went on to score 89 goals in 178 games, which is a 38-goal pace for an 82-game season.
Iginla is also working to get acclimated with new teammates and new linemates. It’s something he had to do last season after being acquired by the Penguins. He scored just one goal in his first seven games with the Pens. He then caught fire, scoring a goal in each of his next four games as part of a stretch in which he scored eight goals in 16 games before being blanked by the Bruins in the Eastern Conference Finals.
However, Igninla isn’t ready to use the “new face in a new place” excuse as a reason for his lack of production in the early going.
“I wish I could use that excuse, but no. I’ve been here before and It’s something that’s pretty much a yearly thing,” Iginla said. “You go through it, you get chances and part of scoring goals is you want to get chances consistently and that’s what you really count on as far as the percentages and it goes in streaks and you want to make the good ones as long as you can and the bad ones as short as you can.”
Finding success may be as easy as getting back to playing a simple style of hockey and not pressing too much. Iginla’s issues were evident Monday when he whistled two one-timers wide of the net during an unsuccessful 5-on-3 for the Bruins in the third period. He admitted that was likely a byproduct of being a bit too anxious and trying to do too much, an understandable desire for someone who has been leaned on so heavily in the past.
This is a different situation, though. While the Bruins brought Iginla in to be a goal-scoring threat, they didn’t bring him in to be the goal-scoring threat, and they certainly couldn’t have expected to get the player he was in his prime. Iginla probably knows that as well as anyone, and he’s been in this situation enough times to know these types of streaks don’t last. He’s just got to get back to what he does best.
“It’s probably going to the net that’s the biggest thing and you just go to the net and swing and you just get one,” he said. “It’s amazing how much better you feel and how much the puck feels better and it’s just the timing and not trying to be anxious and hope it goes in as opposed to just shooting and letting it go in. So yeah, it’s part of it, and I’m not discouraged by any means.
“Disappointed today and disappointed when you lose the close games but not discouraged.”