Iginla reflects on short time with Penguins

Iginla reflects on short time with Penguins
October 28, 2013, 7:15 pm
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WILMINGTON – Jarome Iginla doesn’t expect a wave of emotions to crash over him when he returns to the CONSOL Energy Center for Wednesday night’s Rivalry Game against the Pittsburgh Penguins to be aired on NBCSN.

After all, the power forward only spent a couple of months with the Penguins during last year’s playoff drive, and played 28 total games with Sidney Crosby’s crew through the regular season and playoffs. It won’t be like Iginla’s homecoming to Calgary for the first time when he heads back there in mid-December during a long road swing through Western Canada.

“I definitely made some friends in the organization when I was down there, and it will be good to be back. But it was a pretty short time,” admitted Iginla. “I think it will be a little more sentimental when I go back to Calgary for the first time. That will be different. This is about two hockey teams that both want to be at the top of the conference, and it’s a good challenge.”

Iggy does have an idea of the kind of raw emotion the Black and Gold might draw out of the Penguins after Pitt was embarrassed in four straight conference final games.

A playoff sweep is rare enough for Crosby and Co., but even more so given the way Bruins players like Zdeno Chara manhandled the Penguins captain.

“It was hard to do the handshake . . . I’ll tell you that. It’s always a sour taste shaking hands at the end when one team is moving on, and another team’s season is over. So that will be there [for the Penguins],” said Iginla. “But we’re coming off a loss that stung, and we felt like we could have had it. Pittsburgh is a high-powered team and they’ve been very good for a long while, so there are a lot of reasons for us to want to get back on the wining side.”

Iginla is off to a solid start this season for the Bruins with goals in each of his last two games, and eight points in 10 games for the Black and Gold skating on the right wing with David Krejci and Milan Lucic. They have consistently produced as Boston’s best line, and Iginla was heavily involved with creating offense even if it took him eight games to score his first goal.

In fact, in many ways Iginla hasn’t looked back at all to Pittsburgh since he departed after getting swept at the hands of his Bruins in the Eastern Conference Finals. Instead he signed with the Bruins for a one-year deal, the same team he eschewed at last year’s trade deadline to ride shotgun with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

“They had a cap situation. I’m happy and thrilled to be here now, but I did enjoy my time there. I got to a conference final there, and I’d only been to two of them in my career,” said Iginla, who did have to switch to the left side when he was playing with the Penguins. “Up until the end it was a pretty cool experience playing deep into the playoffs, and now I’d like to go even further.

“Guys know how good [Sidney] Crosby is, but when you play with him you get to appreciate how hard he works. There’s a focus and a drive, and it helps lead their team. He works very hard. People say it’s just talent with him, but he works very hard on his game. It’s the same thing as a guy like [Chara] does here. It’s not just a talent thing for sure.”

Iginla and the Bruins seem to be catching the Penguins on a down cycle as losers of three straight games while still leading the very mediocre Metro Division, but there’s no way to discount the emotion Pittsburgh will be playing with. Iginla hasn’t tried to hide the bitterness of last year’s handshake line with the Bruins after getting humbled in four straight games, and there’s a roster full of Penguins waiting to bring that bitter taste to the ice on Wednesday night.