Haggerty: Slow offensive start nothing new for Iginla

Haggerty: Slow offensive start nothing new for Iginla
October 22, 2013, 2:00 am
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WILMINGTON – Jarome Iginla has experienced enough over his 16 NHL seasons to know not to overreact when certain things happen during the course of a hockey year.

One of those things to be expected: developments might go a little slowly in the offensive production department for the 36-year-old during the opening NHL month of October. Iginla leads the Bruins with 24 shots on net and has been all around the net for potential scores in the offensive zone, but he’s still searching for his first goal as a member of the Bruins after seven games in the bank for Boston.

“As a line we’ve had some great scoring chances thus far, which I really take as a positive. Looch has had some great scoring chances and we’re spending a lot of time in the opposing zone,” said Iginla. “One thing I’ve really learned in my career – and something I really try to stick to – is to keep trying to get those scoring chances even if it’s not going in.

“A big part of [dealing with] it is that we’re winning, and everybody is doing well. We’re in the business of winning and that feels good. I’ll always stick with the mindset that it’s better to not score in a win than score a goal in a loss. That being said, I won’t sit back and relax waiting for the goal to come. I want to break through here.”

Two years ago Iginla had only two goals and four points after nine October games for the Calgary Flames, and the year before that the power forward managed only a pair of goals in 11 games during October. Earlier in his career Iginla didn’t seem to have the same level of challenges when it came to being a slow starter to an NHL season, but it’s of little concern to a future Hall of Famer that’s scored 530 goals in his career.

Iginla knows the offense is coming, and he’s been everything else as advertised: still surprising quick with his skating when the moment requires some speed, incredibly strong on the puck and able to squeeze off his dangerous shot at a moment’s notice with the puck.

It would be shocking if Iginla doesn’t crank up the production to get into the 30 goal range skating with talented high end forwards like David Krejci and Milan Lucic, and that kind of situation does nothing but hearten the right winger’s hope and expectations. Even if the struggles continued for another week or two, Iginla knows the scoring chances will continue presenting themselves as a result of working hard in the right areas of the ice.

Those are the lessons learned in 16 years of scoring binges, mystifying slumps and everything in between.

“For whatever reason throughout my career I haven’t been the best player in October,” admitted Iginla. “For this time of year as far as timing, chances and getting some shots, I actually feel pretty good. I’d like to see a few of them go in, but I’m definitely not frustrated. Looch and Krejci are playing well and we’re all getting our chances, so you feel the next one is going to go in.

“I’ve tried different things as far as different approaches and thinking differently, but that’s the way it’s always shaken out [in October]. A big part of it is jumping in with Krejci and Lucic, and feeling a part of that line. They play well together, but they’ve done a great job of making me like I’m a part of it too.”

The ultimate way Iginla can feel a part of his new line in Boston is to light a lamp or two, and that’s clearly a point of focus as he finds the range. The success of the B’s power play is also riding on Iginla starting to connect on some of his one-timer chances, so a hot streak for the new right wing will have some far-reaching impact for the Black and Gold.

One person that isn’t worried about Iginla at all: that would be Bruins head coach Claude Julien. The B’s bench boss was asked if he “felt for Iginla” given his struggles searching for first goal with the Bruins, and answered with a resounding “no” given what he’s witnessed over the first few weeks.

Besides, Julien also knows that November will be here before we know it right along with Iginla’s production.

“I don’t really feel for him at all, and I’ll tell you why. I feel like he’s been playing really well. I know that he’s going to score eventually, so he doesn’t need any pity from us,” said Julien. “When I look at his game, you see everything that he does battling along the walls, he’s in the right places to get those scoring chances.

“It’s only a matter of time. He’s been around for a long time, so I don’t think he’s frustrated. He knows what’s going on, and he knows eventually they’ll come in bunches.”

So it wouldn’t surprise anybody if Iginla makes good on some of his quality chances by scoring Wednesday night on the road in Buffalo, but it also won’t send anybody into a tailspin if the puck luck continues to elude him.

One thing seems to be certain for him: the goals will eventually start arriving in a steady stream until he’s looking at 30 goals and 60 points at the end of another season effectively mixing power and skill.