BOSTON (CBS) – Two assists on power-play goals by Zdeno Chara were a just reward for Jarome Iginla against his former team the Calgary Flames in the Bruins’ win Tuesday night at TD Garden.
Iginla’s been working hard to not just fit in but also produce points ever since he signed with the Bruins last summer. The points have been a little hard to come by, as he has 21 (eight goals) in 34 games thus far.
Although the main idea behind signing Iginla to replace Nathan Horton was to give the Bruins an equally productive and physical first line, there were other reasons for importing him. So while the Bruins wait for Iginla to really pick up his goal-scoring pace and at least surpass 20 goals this season (anything less than 20 will be considered a major disappointment) they also get to benefit from the other things he can contribute to the team other than points.
The cliché about hockey players playing through all sorts of ailments short of death has been beaten like a rented mule. But in the case of Iginla’s recent decision to play through a dislocated finger, which spawned a photographic Internet sensation Saturday night after the injury in Vancouver, the future Hall-of-Fame forward is living up to the expected level of toughness.
The Bruins currently resemble the Providence outlet of their organization as much as the Boston one because of injuries to regulars and call-ups that have been asked to fill in. So there are plenty of young players, both established ones and those hoping to be the future of the franchise, getting an up-close look at Iginla’s acts of bravery. He busted his finger in the first period against the Canucks, he missed the rest of the period getting fixed up and he played the last two periods. Against the Flames on Tuesday, he threw on a splint, laced up his skates (maybe not in that order) and dished out those two assists.
Best of all, Iginla had a great message before the game about why he’s willing to play through a dislocated finger in a mid-December game no one will remember come April, May or June. And the reason, he says, has nothing to do with the streak of games played without missing one for injury that’s now approaching 500 games.
“You know honestly, I don’t really think of it in a long-term or whatever basis. You just want to play and you want to play in every game,” he said. “I think if you went around the room, everybody, when it’s game day you want to be a part of it and it sucks being out of the lineup. No, it’s not really something I’m thinking of getting to a certain number or anything like that. It just kind of … I’ve been fortunate to play that consecutive. But honestly, you go around the room, it’s game day. We all want to be in that lineup and be part of it.”
At 36 and with more than 500 goals to his name, Iginla obviously strikes a figure worthy of worship in the Bruins’ dressing room. Boston’s up-and-comers can learn how to stay upbeat in the face of a lack of production from him. They can learn how to take care of themselves and be ready to play every day. And now he’s teaching them that outside of something major, like a concussion or broken leg, injury isn’t an excuse for sitting out. Whether he’s a Bruin for just this season or multiple years, Iginla might have an impact on the organization beyond the 2013-14 season.