Iginla ready for taste of Bruins - Canadiens rivalry

Iginla ready for taste of Bruins - Canadiens rivalry
December 3, 2013, 7:15 pm
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WILMINGTON – Jarome Iginla has already enjoyed a slight taste of the Bruins/Canadiens rivalry after playing in the team’s first preseason game at the Bell Centre. But that should pale in comparison to the real thing when Iginla and his Black and Gold teammates travel to the Bell Centre for the first regular season showdown on Thursday night.

The Habs sit only three points behind the Bruins in second place in the Atlantic Division, and have taken points in nine of their last 10 games while riding the mother of all hot streaks from Max Pacioretty. So clearly the passion and normal level of hatred will be in the air once the Spoked B jerseys take the ice.

The 36-year-old Bruins forward starred in more than his share of the “Battle of Alberta” rivalry games between the Flames and Edmonton Oilers during his time in Calgary, so he has a bit of an idea about what to expect. If he has any questions he can certainly ask Milan Lucic what it’s like to be chased around the Bell Centre ice by Georges Laraque for an entire game, or query Zdeno Chara on what it’s like to have an enraged fan base flood police emergency lines after accidentally hitting Pacioretty into a stanchion between the benches.

It’s safe to say neither of those B’s players is very well liked in the city of Montreal.

“I haven’t been a part of it, but I know the rivalry from TV over recent years. We’re pretty close in the standings, so it just adds to it. I’m looking forward to being a part of it in person, and to really feel it,” said Iginla, who is off to a bit of a slow start with 5 goals and 15 points in 27 games. “All games are fun to play, but it’s a little more fun when there’s something a little extra going on with the rivalry.

“Any time there’s that kind of a rivalry you get all kinds of different games, right? Some are very physical and some aren’t, but they’re always important and they mean a lot. They feel really good when they go well, and vice versa. Every team has their own rivalries. Not many have the history of Boston/Montreal, but there are geographical ones and cities that battle in everything. That was Calgary and Edmonton.”

It will also be the first regular taste of the Montreal/Boston rivalry in enemy territory for Torey Krug, Reilly Smith, Carl Soderberg, Loui Eriksson and Kevan Miller as well, so there will be plenty of flesh blood to the border rivalry. Despite the newcomers, Claude Julien didn’t feel the need to address those players beyond the obvious while watching the animated, festive Montreal crowds on television.

Most of the newcomers (Krug, Iginla, Soderberg and Miller) played in that first exhibition game against the Canadiens at the Bell Centre, but Thursday night will be kicked up a few levels based on their proximity in the standings.

“I don’t think there’s too many of them haven’t [played at the Bell Centre]. We’ve had some preseason games there, and other guys have come from other [NHL] teams,” said Julien. “I don’t know if there will be anybody that it will be their first time in the building. I just think the whole atmosphere there is pretty special. They are ‘The Team’ in that city, so everything revolves around the Montreal Canadiens.

“When you go in there you can feel the electricity in the air. It’s a special place to play against [that team]. But to me it’s a fun place to play, and it gets your team ready for those kinds of games. We’ve always had success there if we get off to decent starts to the game. The first period has always been a key for us, and there’s no doubt it will be again on Thursday.”

If the preseason is any signal, then perhaps the visit to Montreal is exactly what the hockey doctor ordered for Iginla: he scored a pair of goals in getting his first preseason in Boston off to the right start.