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Kalman: Iginla’s Past Earns Him Pass If Slow Start Continues

By Matt Kalman, CBSBoston
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Boston Bruins forward Jarome Iginla. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Boston Bruins forward Jarome Iginla. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

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WILMINGTON (CBS)  – After just four shots on net in his first two regular season games for the Bruins, Jarome Iginla fired seven shots on Colorado goaltender J.S. Giguere Thursday night.

He also attempted five other shots that didn’t hit their intended target.

Like the rest of his teammates, Iginla was left with nothing but frustration when the final horn sounded and the Bruins had their first loss of the season, 2-0, to the Avalanche. However, there were reasons for hope in the defeat for the right wing.

“Yeah, you know, I think it’s coming. It’s coming as far as personally my own game,” said Iginla, who will still be seeking his first point of the season when the Bruins visit Columbus Saturday afternoon. “Yeah, I want to make sure I’m moving and getting opportunities and getting shots. … It felt better. It felt better out of the three and hopefully I’ll build on it. And I think there is still room for improvement and movement. But it was a start.”

Some players might measure success just on the opportunities and go about their day without a care in the world. Not the 36-year-old Iginla.

“But it’s about results,” he said after practice Friday, “but I’m going to be positive off of that and look to get better and keep building.”

There are players you worry about after three goal-less games. And there are those you don’t worry about. Based on his track record, Iginla is a player who has earned everyone’s patience for three games, 13 games and maybe even 20 or 30 games. He’s typically a slow starter, but at the end of the season there’s almost always a number 30 or great in the goals column on the back of his hockey card.

Iginla, unsolicited, offered up the fact that he’s a slow starter almost every season. He can’t put his finger on why, and says he has even tried numerous different physical and mental approaches to the early months of the season in an attempt to change things. There’s still time after just three games for Iginla to turn his current start into a more memorable one for positive reasons. The Bruins could sure use the production to avoid a sluggish rest of the month. But a red-hot start is obviously not a necessity for Iginla’s stats.

Last season, Iginla scored 14 goals in the 48-game season but lit the lamp just once in the first 16 games. In 2011-12, he scored twice in nine games, five times in 23 games. When the season ended he boasted 32 goals. During his 43-goal campaign in 2010-11 he start goal-less in his first four and score just two in the first 15 games. You get the picture.

Iginla said he seems to offer a different excuse every season. But this time around, he didn’t offer any despite the low-hanging fruit of his new situation. He has new linemates, is on a new team in a new city and could easily just chalk up three games with no points as part of the process of getting used to things.

Instead of excuses, he wants to produce points and prove that he was the perfect fit to play with David Krejci and Milan Lucic once Nathan Horton left.

“It’s more of just making sure I’m going and taking those opportunities to shoot. Because playing with [Krejci] and [Lucic], you know they win a lot of battles, they create a lot of plays and you’re going to get shots,” Iginla said. “But you have to make sure you move into those holes and shooting it and being ready to shoot and being ready to release. So the release, it’s one of those things that for me anyway, it’s just trying to get back to the quicker release and getting shots off in tough spots and it [the game Thursday] was a start.”

It might take even longer for Iginla to completely meet his potential in black and gold. Until January, though, you can’t pass judgment on whether he has anything left and can be the Bruins’ top sniper. Iginla has bought himself at least that much patience with his Hall-of-Fame totals.

Matt Kalman covers the Bruins for CBSBoston.com and also contributes to NHL.com and several other media outlets. Follow him on Twitter @TheBruinsBlog.

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