|10.03.13 at 11:29 pm ET|
Jarome Iginla didn’t think it was a particularly dirty hit. He just didn’t like being knocked to the ice by Lightning defenseman Radko Gudas, so he decided to say something. After a quick verbal exchange, the gloves were off and Iginla had his first fight as a Bruin.
“It is always nice [to get the first fight out of the way],” Iginla said. “Between seasons, with the summer off, you always feel a little bit rusty at the start. It’s always nice. Just going off emotion. Nothing planned. Just got run over. That’s part of it.”
Whether it was the best time for Iginla to drop the gloves is highly debatable. He’s a first-line winger, and Gudas is not a first-pairing defenseman. On top of that, the Bruins had the lead at the time. All things considered, the Lightning would take that trade-off every time, especially since they ended up scoring just 1:26 after the fight.
But the fight did serve a purpose for Iginla. It was the centerpiece of his effort to establish himself on a new team. Combined with some of the hits he threw as an aggressive forechecker, the fight let everyone know that, at age 36, the future Hall of Famer is still going to be as physical as he’s always been.
And on a team that takes pride in sticking up for each other, Iginla made it known that he’s perfectly capable of sticking up for himself and fighting his own battles.
“That’s been Bruins hockey for a long time,” Iginla said. “Guys stick up for each other, but you also have to stick up for yourself. You don’t want anyone else rushing in on a good, clean hit. It’s just part of the intensity, part of the emotion.”
While it wasn’t Iginla’s primary motivation for dropping the gloves, the fight also won over the small group of Bruins fans who hadn’t quite forgiven Iginla for spurning the B’s in favor of the Penguins last season. There had even been a few boos when Iginla was introduced before the game.
But after the fight? Standing ovation.
“It felt good to play here and play at home, have the crowd, and be a Bruin,” Iginla said. “Guys play hard. Some big blocked shots. [Shawn Thornton] starting it off with a tilt there. There’s some hits. It felt good to be a part of an intense season opener again to get things started.”
Ultimately, the Bruins didn’t bring Iginla to Boston to be a fighter. They brought him here to be the first-line goal scorer he’s been his whole career. And given that Iginla scored 14 goals in last year’s lockout-shortened season and 30 or more in each of the 11 seasons prior to that, there’s every reason to believe he’ll be that.
Iginla’s track record speaks for itself. He didn’t need to prove himself to anyone on Thursday night. But the fact that he wanted to prove himself — to his new teammates and to his new home crowd — certainly bodes well for the Bruins.
|10.03.13 at 10:18 pm ET|
|10.03.13 at 9:49 pm ET|
Of all things, it was the Bruins’ penalty kill that led them past the Lightning in a 3-1 season-opening win Thursday at TD Garden.
The Bruins had a pair of shorthanded goals, one of which came in the first period on Chris Kelly’s first career penalty shot. Milan Lucic scored an even-strength goal in the second, with Patrice Bergeron picking up Boston’s second shorty of the night early in the third period.
The Lightning got their goal from Valtteri Filppula, who capitalized on a 2-on-1 in the second period after Torey Krug was caught pinching and Daniel Paille was burned at the blue line.
Tuukka Rask made 32 saves on the night, while Anders Lindback stopped 22 of Boston’s 25 shots on goal.
The Bruins will host the Red Wings Saturday.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
- Jordan Caron played perhaps his best game at the NHL level was one of the best players on the ice. He was aggressive, took pucks to the net and had multiple scoring opportunities. He actually scored on one of them in the second period, but it was waved off (see below).
Caron was active from the beginning, as he blocked a Tampa clearing attempt in the first period and raced to the net before putting another shot on Lindback later in the shift. He also had a scoring chance in the final seconds of the period when Chris Kelly fed him in front.
- Good to see Lucic get on the board early, but don’t get carried away. Lucic scored in the season opener last season in what ended up being the first of just seven regular-season goals. Still, based on how he’s looked in camp and how offensively potent his line figures to be, this should be a big season for Lucic.
- Jarome Iginla did his best to win over the small percentage of fans who booed him during pre game introductions, as he challenged and fought Radko Gudas in the second period after Gudas took him down in the neutral zone. It was one of two fights on the night, as Shawn Thornton fought Pierre-Cedric Labrie in the first.
- Rask was high for the B’s at points, particularly on Tampa’s first 5-on-3 and in the third period. He was Boston’s best penalty killer on the 5-on-3 when he stopped a blast from Steven Stamkos at the top of the right circle and then robbed Teddy Purcell at the buzzer. In the third, Rask came across his net to rob what would have been Filppula’s second of the night off a bounce off the endboards.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
- The Bruins gave the Lightning two 5-on-3s of more than 1:50. The first came when Gregory Campbell sent the puck over the glass in the defensive zone just six seconds into an Adam McQuaid cross-checking penalty in the first, with the other coming in the third on Shawn Thornton and Zdeno Chara penalties. The Lightning scored on neither of them, as Rask stoned them in the first period and a Ryan Malone penalty in the third made it a 4-on-3, which set up Bergeron’s goal.
Of course, the good news is that the Bruins killed off all the penalties and got two shorthanded goals on the night. Blessing in disguise?
- Caron was the victim of a brutal call on what should have been a goal in the second period. After he raced into the offensive zone and beat a Lightning player to the puck along the left wall, Caron drove to the net, put the puck on goal and persistently hacked at rebounds until it was in the net. The goal was waved off, however, as the official didn’t have a good angle on it and thought Lindback had covered the puck.
|10.03.13 at 5:44 pm ET|
Seidenberg, 32, is in the final season of a four-year, $13 million contract signed following the 2009-10 season. Seidenberg had four goals and 13 assists in 46 games last season.
|10.03.13 at 1:18 pm ET|
NESN commentator Andy Brickley joined Mut & Merloni on Thursday to discuss the Bruins’ new players and the team’s chances at another long playoff run this season.
Brickley said the team looks ready for another great season, despite only getting a 13-week offseason.
“I think they’ve looked good. … With the turnover that they did have during those 13 weeks, there was a healthy sense of competition, but there was also that feeling of unfinished business from a year ago, given the way that Game 6 ended,” Brickley said. “They feel like they’re built for the playoffs. I think there’s some normalcy getting back to an 82-game regular season, and I think that preparation has been where it should be for training camp.”
Brickley added that the Bruins have the chance to be even better than they were during the 2012-13 season, but he will hold off picking the better team until he sees how the third line pans out.
“I think they have the potential to be [better],” Brickley said. “I certainly would not say that, day one, that they’re better than a year ago, although I didn’t like their malaise or their ‘When we had a chance to win the division and didn’t get it done’ attitude towards the final stages of last season, as unique as it was with the 48 games compressed. But I like the team going into the postseason. That’s why I said at the beginning of this conversation, they feel they are built for the postseason. That I agree with.
“That’s why I like this team. To say that they’re better than they were a year go, that might be a stretch right now, it all depends on … what’s that third line going to look like? Go back to 2011, the third and fourth lines of the Boston Bruins were such a mismatch for other teams across the league that your top six were great players, as far as forwards, but it was forwards seven through 12 that were real difference-makers during the regular season and the postseason. Without that, you don’t win the Stanley Cup, and until I see that from the third line this year, I’m not ready to dub them a better team yet.”
On whether he is surprised that Dougie Hamilton, Matt Bartkowski and Torey Krug are all on the roster: “I think Torey Krug is the leader in the clubhouse because of the need for a more meaningful power play. … They’re looking for a more offensive hockey sense, hockey opportunity, that will carry the puck if you give him the ice, and Krug is at the top of the list as far as those three players are concerned, so he’s going to be in the top six automatically, just based on his skill set and what he showed you at training camp. … If it just went on merit alone, I would think it would be Krug and Bartkowski in the top six, with Hamilton being the extra guy to start the season, but all three bring what the Bruins are looking for the change on what they’re trying to get done on the back end.”
On what he has seen from the team’s new players so far: “[Jarome] Iginla, as advertised. This guy, I think he got a lesson firsthand on what it’s like to play against the Boston Bruins. I don’t think he had a real concept of what the Bruins were all about, being in Calgary all of those years. He got that in the postseason last year playing for Pittsburgh. But he’s a Bruin, prototypical player. Plays hard, does everything hard, goes to the net hard. … So, he is as advertised. I think he’ll be a terrific addition. … Loui Eriksson, haven’t seen as much of him. … I had to rely on conversations with coaches and just an education on what this player is all about. He’ll be a terrific player.”
On whether he likes the way the Bruins are situated in the new-look Atlantic Division: “I love it, just on competition alone. I’m excited for this Bruins season and even though I’m not saying they’re a better team than a year ago, I am saying this is a really good team built for the postseason. I expect Pittsburgh and Boston to be the two division winners when all is said and done at the end of the year. But I like this division in the sense of competition. Four of the Original Six, Detroit, you get them four times. … I like the idea that you have to win the division. … What I don’t like is the fact that you have 16 teams in the East and 14 teams in the West. I don’t like that. Just on numbers alone, it’s more difficult to make the postseason if you’re in the East.”
|10.03.13 at 12:42 pm ET|
For most of the Bruins, Thursday night marks their first step in a process in settling unfinished business from last June. For three Bruins, it marks the start of a new chapter in their careers.
Jarome Iginla, Loui Eriksson and Reilly Smith will all make their Bruins debuts when the team opens the 2013-14 season against the Lightning at TD Garden. Though the three have a training camp and some preseason games under their belts, they know that nothing they’ve experienced in Boston will compare to the first one that matters.
For Eriksson and Smith, the experience should be extra eye-opening. Eriksson spent the first seven years of his NHL career playing in Dallas, while Smith is entering his second season. Though the Stars drew relatively well last season, coming to Boston from Dallas marks a big change as far as hockey atmospheres go.
“I’ve seen in these weeks that I’ve been here, there are a lot of fans around here,” Eriksson said. “Everyone talks hockey in this town, and it’s nice to be in an environment like that. I’m looking forward to it.”
As for Iginla, his debut in Boston is coming months after initially expected. Iginla infamously chose not to come to the Bruins prior to the trade deadline last season, asking the Flames to instead deal him to the red hot Penguins. After expressing interest in the B’s after the season and signing with them on the first day of free agency, Iginla is happy to be in Boston and is looking forward to not getting booed, as he was around these parts following the trade.
“I’m hoping not,” he said with a laugh. “I hope it’s positive and I want to make a good first impression. My family and I are thrilled to be here, and it’s been a great first month being acclimated and feeling more at home. It’s a great building to play in and a tough building to play in and we want to keep it that way.”
Iginla said he’s been noticed around Boston since coming to the Bruins and that he’s been well-received. He should be, as the longtime Flames captain is one of the better guys in the league.
“It happens a little bit. There are a lot of Bruins fans,” he said. “'¦ People just wishing you well and saying they’re excited for the year. You can definitely tell it’s a hockey city and people are into it and looking forward to getting things rolling.”
Smith gets to fly under the radar a bit more. All eyes will be on Iginla and Eriksson because of the players they are replacing, but Smith noted he’s still feeling plenty of pressure as he makes his debut. After all, he’s not ready to assume his job is safe given all the competition he has, so he’s approaching Thursday with both nerves and excitement.
“It will be really exciting, for sure,” he said. “There will be a couple butterflies before the game, but it should be a lot of fun, but I’m looking forward to it.
|10.03.13 at 11:50 am ET|
The Bruins will have their new alternate captain in the lineup for Thursday’s season-opener against the Lightning, as David Krejci will be in the lineup after being questionable with back spasms.
Krejci was on the ice for morning skate centering his line with Milan Lucic and Jarome Iginla, while Carl Soderberg (left ankle) was once again absent and will not play Thursday. With Soderberg out, Jordan Caron will play left wing on the third line with Chris Kelly and Reilly Smith.
For the time being, the Bruins will not call up another forward from Providence.
For more Bruins coverage, visit weei.com/bruins.
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