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Jarome Iginla looking forward to not getting booed 10.03.13 at 12:42 pm ET
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Jarome Iginla

Jarome Iginla

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.

 

Read More: Jarome Iginla, Loui Eriksson, Reilly Smith,
Bruins season preview: Forward projections 10.01.13 at 8:23 am ET
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Jarome Iginla

Jarome Iginla

It isn’t the opening week of the NHL season without people incorrectly guessing what’s going to happen (not to brag, but what has two thumbs and totally called that Johnny Boychuk would score five goals in 2011-12? Yeah, that’s the extent to which these predictions have been right).

Here’s a look at the predictions for the offense. As you can probably tell by the goal totals, the thought here is that the B’s will see some bigger individual performances than in years past. Part of that is the fact that the top two lines will be very good and part of it is the smaller goalie pads.

Note: It’s silly to predict injuries, so all players’ projections will assume they play somewhere in the 75-82-game range. Extra forwards/defensemen aren’t shown given the uncertainty of whether (and where) they’ll play.

David Krejci: 23 goals, 52 assists, 75 points

Playing with two heavily motivated power forwards, Krejci sets a career high in points. Then again, he’s probably going to put up 75 points in a single playoff run one of these years.

Jarome Iginla: 35 goals, 29 assists, 64 points

Thirty-five goals for the aging Iginla — sounds crazy, right? It shouldn’t. That’s just half a goal less than what Iginla has averaged in the last four full seasons. The argument against this happening is that he’s 36 years old now, but he hasn’t appeared to have lost a step and certainly hasn’t worn down. He’s missed a grand total of zero games due to injury since January of 2007.

Milan Lucic: 31 goals, 30 assists, 61 points

Two 30-goal-scorers for the Bruins in the same season? That hasn’t happened since the 2002-03 season, but B’s came three goals away from it in 2011-12. Lucic won’t slump this season like he did last year; Iginla will demand more of him.

Patrice Bergeron: 22 goals, 49 assists, 71 points

Also look for Bergeron to be among the league-leaders in plus-minus. With the addition of Loui Eriksson to his line, the bump in offense will mean he remains a Selke favorite.

Brad Marchand: 31 goals, 26 assists, 57 points

I’m actually predicting that every player in the NHL will have 30 goals this season, including goalies. All kidding aside, there is no reason why Marchand’s numbers shouldn’t go up this season, as he’s stepping one year further into his prime and he’s playing on the best line he’s been a part of in his NHL career.

Loui Eriksson: 28 goals, 37 assists, 65 points

These numbers might not jump off the page, but we’ll go with a more conservative prediction for Eriksson as we learn more about him. Among the questions: Will he be better or worse now that he’s got people paying attention?

Chris Kelly: 12 goals, 20 assists, 32 points

Kelly doesn’t have it in him to have two bad seasons in a row, but there are definitely questions about what this line will produce.

Carl Soderberg: 14 goals, 17 assists, 31 points

At long last, Carl Soderberg is an honest-to-goodness NHLer. He’s had his training camp, he’s used to the ice and he played in two Stanley Cup finals games for good measure. We’ll see how he holds up at wing.

Reilly Smith: 10 goals, 17 assists, 27 points

After winning the job, Smith now has the challenge of keeping it. He looked good in camp, so expect him to stick.

Gregory Campbell: 10 goals, 12 assists, 22 points

He’s healthy and ready to do something – anything – to make people forget about his leg.

Daniel Paille: 13 goals, 10 assists, 23 points

Just a reminder: Paille scored 10 goals in the 48-game season last year. He’s a serviceable third-liner playing on the fourth line.

Shawn Thornton: 6 goals, 7 assists, 13 points

This is the last year of his current contract, but Thornton doesn’t want it to be his last in Boston.

Read More: 2013-14 Bruins Projections, Jarome Iginla, Loui Eriksson, Milan Lucic
Takeaways from Bruins’ preseason opener: Power play looks good, Chad Johnson doesn’t 09.16.13 at 10:03 pm ET
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Jarome Iginla

Jarome Iginla

The Bruins opened their preseason schedule with a 6-3 win over the Canadiens Monday in Montreal. The team will play the Capitals Tuesday in Baltimore before heading back to play the Red Wings on Thursday at TD Garden.

Here are some takeaways from the game:

Jarome Iginla had a pair of goals for the B’s, one of which was one of Boston’s four power-play goals on the day. Milan Lucic had three assists, while David Krejci also scored on a power-play goal. Safe to say the members of that line are getting used to one another.

– The power-play unit that the B’s used in practice Monday morning paid dividends on Iginla’s first goal. The unit featured Lucic, Carl Soderberg and Iginla up front with Torey Krug and Krejci at the point. Lucic fed Iginla down low with a cross-ice pass, with Iginla slapping a one-timer that trickled past Carey Price from the left circle.

– Regarding the backup goaltender battle, Chad Johnson did nothing to help his case. He didn’t face a shot until 12:06 of the first period, and his inability to glove the easy shot from Louis Leblanc led to a rebound and a Travis Moen goal.

Johnson also should have had the Canadiens’ second goal, a P.K. Subban shot that didn’t go through any traffic but beat Johnson cleanly. The third and final goal he allowed on the eight shots he saw came on a nice tic-tac-toe play by the Habs’ first line with Max Pacioretty finishing, but it was overall a very ugly performance for Johnson.

Malcolm Subban relieved Johnson halfway through the second and stopped all 12 shots he saw. Subban isn’t a serious contender for the vacant backup goalie job, but he certainly looked more composed than Johnson.

Subban did take a penalty, as he played the puck outside the trapezoid, but he kept the Habs from scoring on the power play.

– While Chad Johnson struggled in goal, Nick Johnson had a pair of goals, the second of which came when he turned a blocked shot into a breakaway. His wrist shot was stopped by Carey Price, but Johnson stuck with it and buried the rebound.

– Lucic was in midseason form as physicality (and taking penalties) went, as crosschecks were buy-one-get-one at the start of the second period with Leblanc.

- Adam McQuaid dropped the gloves with Stefan Fournier in the third period. McQuaid has been no stranger to dropping the gloves over the years, and he might need to pick up a couple more with Andrew Ference gone.

– Defenseman Zach Trotman, who has drawn rave reviews from Claude Julien, scored a power-play goal on a blast from the point with Nick Johnson screening in front in the third period.

Read More: Chad Johnson, Jarome Iginla,
Loui Eriksson opens training camp with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand; Jarome Iginla with Milan Lucic and David Krejci 09.12.13 at 1:00 pm ET
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Claude Julien

Claude Julien

Claude Julien has wasted no time in trying out what could be one of the best two-way lines in the league, as Julien used Loui Eriksson on the right wing with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron in line drills on the day on the ice of training camp. The second group featured Jarome Iginla in Nathan Horton‘s familiar spot with Milan Lucic and David Krejci.

Eriksson, who was the centerpiece of the trade that sent Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley to Dallas, is considered an elite two-way player. The 28-year-old has had seasons of 36, 29 and 27 goals in his career, and he figures to replace Seguin’s offense while adding a more complete game.

“Definitely no disrespect to Segs — he’s a phenomenal player and we clicked very well; we had a couple great years together — but Loui’s a bit of a different player,” Marchand said. “He’s still a very good goal-scorer, a very good playmaker, and he plays hard in our end. I’m sure he’ll complement us very well and hopefully we’ll all be able to play well together.”

Iginla was signed in the offseason after Horton elected not to return to the B’s after three seasons in Boston.

Another line that was used quite a bit in the first group was Chris Kelly between Jordan Caron and Reilly Smith. Both Smith and Caron are competing for third-line minutes this season.

For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.

Read More: Brad Marchand, Jarome Iginla, Loui Eriksson, Patrice Bergeron
Bruins announce training camp roster 09.11.13 at 4:00 pm ET
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The Bruins announced their roster for training camp Wednesday, with 51 players set to hit the ice for the B’s. Players did off-ice conditioning Wednesday and will begin practices on Thursday.

One notable takeaway from the groupings is that the projected members of the top two lines are in the same groups. Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Jarome Iginla are all in Group B, while Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Loui Eriksson are in Group A.

The two groups are as follows:

Group A:

Forwards: Patrice Bergeron, Scott Campbell, Carter Camper, Jordan Caron, Jack Downing, Loui Eriksson, Justin Florek, Seth Griffith, Chris Kelly, Alexander Khokhlachev, Jared Knight, Matt Lindblad, Brad Marchand, Bobby Robins, Reilly Smith

Defensemen: Johnny Boychuk, Chris Casto, Dougie Hamilton, Mike Moore, Joe Morrow, Dennis Seidenberg, Steven Spinell, David Warsofsky

Goaltenders: Tuukka Rask, Niklas Svedberg

Group B:

Forwards: Anthony Camara, Gregory Campbell, Craig Cunningham, Alex Fallstrom, Rob Flick, Matt Fraser, Jarome Iginla, Nick Johnson, David Krejci, Milan Lucic, Daniel Paille, Tyler Randell, Carl Söderberg, Ryan Spooner, Shawn Thornton

Defensemen: Matt Bartkowski, Zdeno Chara, Tommy Cross, Torey Krug, Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller, Zach Trotman, Ben Youds

Goaltenders: Chad Johnson, Adam Morrison, Malcolm Subban

Read More: Jarome Iginla,
Bruins’ right wing shuffle bittersweet for Milan Lucic 09.04.13 at 9:39 pm ET
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Milan Lucic saw one of his close friends leave the Bruins this offseason. (AP)

Milan Lucic saw one of his close friends leave the Bruins this offseason. (AP)

Milan Lucic was very careful to not knock Jarome Iginla‘s decision to choose the Penguins over the Bruins last season, and in doing so he prevented some potential awkwardness between linemates.

Lucic, one of the bigger NHL fans among NHL players, has long respected Iginla, and he has every reason to. As one of the premier power forwards in recent history with 530 NHL goals, Iginla is not only a logical linemate for Lucic, but the type of player a young star like Lucic can look up to.

That isn’t to say there wasn’t some surprise on Lucic’s end when he heard that the B’s had signed the 36-year-old.

“At first I kind of laughed,” Lucic said Wednesday. “It’s great. He’s a great player. He hasn’t scored 500 plus goals by accident, and I think a lot of people kind of doubted him and the way he played at the end of the year, but I think he’s a guy with a lot of pride and a guy that competes hard. … It seems like he’s real excited to be a part of the Boston Bruins, and that’s what you want to see from a future Hall of Famer.”

Of course, the only reason the Bruins got Iginla was to replace Lucic’s good friend in Nathan Horton, who decided after the season that he was not interested in returning to the Bruins. Horton took a seven-year deal in Columbus, leaving Lucic without his linemate of the last three seasons.

“It’s tough. For me personally, it’s more than just losing a teammate,” Lucic said of Horton departing. “It’s someone that you spent a lot of time with in his time here, but at the end of the day that’s where you’ve got to realize that it is a business. It’s unfortunate to see him go — he was a big part of our team the last three years — but you’ve got to move on, turn the page and wish him all the best.”

While Lucic wouldn’t definitely say whether he saw Horton’s decision coming, he defended the decision.

“I talked to him a little bit about it, and being a UFA he’s free to make the decision that he wants,” Lucic said. “He got a pretty good deal out of it, so there’s no grudges, there’s nothing like that.”

Lucic and Horton found success skating on a line with David Krejci that paired one of the league’s better playmakers and two-way forwards with a pair of power forwards. The line could score and wear teams down, all while being more responsible than your average top line.

With Horton gone, the B’s can go for the same dynamic by inserting Iginla into Horton’s old spot. If they do, Loui Eriksson can play the right wing on Patrice Bergeron’s line and give the B’s perhaps the best top-six they’ve had in years.

“Just looking at [it], Horty was a right-handed shot and so is Iggy,” he said. “If you were going to make a pretty good guess, you’d say he fit in pretty well with us. Horty was a great shooter, and [Iginla] is one of the best goal-scorers of the last 15 years. You hope that it fits and you hope the chemistry is there from day one. If he is with us, we’re going to have to work at it a little bit to make sure it’s where we want it to be.”

Read More: Jarome Iginla, Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton,
Jarome Iginla signing a smart move for Bruins amidst turnover 07.05.13 at 9:52 pm ET
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Jarome Iginla

This has to feel weird for some Bruins fans, but it isn’t.

The Jarome Iginla-to-not-the-Bruins-to-the-Penguins-then-to-the-Bruins is like LeBron James requesting a trade to the Cavaliers. It’s like Macklemore deciding now to sign with a major label. It’s like Jason going back out with Jessica after dumping her for Alex M.

Yet at the end of the day, it shouldn’t be a major shock. The Bruins obviously like Iginla (duh, they traded for him) and Iginla clearly wants to win a Cup (he chose what appeared to be the best team at the trade deadline). Factor in that the Penguins had less than $700,000 in cap space late in the day Friday and the Bruins had quite a bit of it, and the two sides are actually a logical fit.

Iginla makes all the sense in the world on Boston’s top line to replace the departed Nathan Horton. Remember, when it seemed like the Bruins had him at the deadline, we were all assuming that he would take the right wing spot on David Krejci’s line and bump Horton down to the third line. When Horton told the B’s he wasn’t coming back and the Bruins saw the right wing market vanish over the course of the day, replacing Horton with another power forward for much less money (his deal is incentive-heavy and will only count for $1.8 million against the cap) it was a no-brainer.

Now, after a crazy two days that saw the Bruins lose six players from last year’s roster (it will likely become seven once Jaromir Jagr finds his next destination) and add two or three, the question is whether the Bruins are in shape to be better or worse than they were last season.

The Bruins went from this offense:

Lucic – Krejci – Horton
Marchand – Bergeron – Jagr
Peverley – Kelly – Seguin
Paille – Campbell – Thornton

to a projected 2013-14 offense of:

Lucic – Krejci – Iginla
Marchand – Bergeron – Eriksson
[Any combination of Kelly, Soderberg, Caron, Knight, Fraser or somebody else]
Paille – Campbell – Thornton

Two things stand out about the differences between the lineups. Most notably, they have some things to figure out as far as the third line goes, unless they add another player. Secondly, this is now a lineup that, without guys like Horton, Seguin and Peverley, demands to be the scorer-by-committee club the Bruins were two years ago.

You’d have to imagine Eriksson, Lucic or Marchand will lead the team in goals, but the B’s – perhaps outside of Eriksson – don’t have that super dangerous threat. Basically, they don’t have the player Tyler Seguin was supposed to be.

That’s OK as long as not too many guys have down years. The B’s didn’t have a 30-goal scorer two years ago, yet they still finished tied for second in the league with 3.17 goals per game. They had six 20-goal scorers that season, and all six of Boston’s projected top-six forwards can pop in 20 if they stay healthy. It’s the third line that still looks to be a work in progress.

For what the situation was – the cap coming down and dealing with a couple of bad contracts in Seguin and Rich Peverley – Peter Chiarelli has done well with it so far. So it’s a matter of what kind of deal he gets Tuukka Rask to sign and whether he’s able to add another guy to the bottom six.

Say this, though: the 2013-14 Bruins are going to be different than last year’s team. There’s nothing that says that better than seeing Jarome Iginla.

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