MONTREAL — Jarome Iginla did not take long to adjust to his new team or his new line.
In Monday’s preseason opener against Montreal at the Bell Centre, Iginla scored two goals to lead the Bruins to a 6-3 win. Iginla had excellent chemistry with Milan Lucic and David Krejci.
“It felt good,” Iginla said of his play with his linemates. “We’re all trying to keep it simple. As far as trying to get some down-low plays and some front plays, you try to win a lot of battles, get it back to the point, go to the net, and get some deflections. I got some great looks as far as one-timers and tried to shoot the puck, and not think. For the first game, it felt good all the way around as a group and as a line.”
Iginla, Nathan Horton’s replacement on the right wing, scored the first goal of the preseason. In the first period, Lucic whipped a cross-ice pass to Iginla at the left circle. Before Carey Price could slide over, Iginla winged a one-timer past the goalie at 8:29 of the first.
Iginla beat relief goalie Robert Mayer at 9:33 of the third. Mayer stopped Torey Krug’s initial shot, but the rebound skittered out to Iginla in the high slot. Iginla settled the puck and snapped a shot past Mayer to break a 3-3 tie.
Iginla landed a game-high six shots on goal, but missed with five other attempts and had one blocked. Iginla has a better slapper than Horton and might have a quicker release.
“Where we lost Horty as far as being a big shooter and a big body on that line, I thought Iggy did a great job of that,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “He shot the puck well. He was solid along the walls and made some good plays. It seemed like a seamless transition.”
Unless the three have zero chemistry in the preseason, they will break camp as the No. 1 line.
Boychuk takes aim
If Johnny Boychuk has an objective for 2013-14, it is to double the number of goals he scored last year. Boychuk’s theory is that he appeared in 44 games last year, so scoring twice as many goals should be possible in an 82-game schedule.
That would give him two goals this season.
“I’d be happy with that,” Boychuk cracked.
Last season, Boychuk landed 75 shots on goal, four fewer than Lucic. But 8.3 percent of Lucic’s shots went in. Boychuk’s one goal gave him a shooting percentage of 1.3 percent — the lowest success rate in the NHL for players with at least one goal.
But in the playoffs, Boychuk wielded one of the hottest sticks. In 22 games, he pumped in six pucks, tying him with Los Angeles’s Slava Voynov for most playoff goals by a defenseman. Boychuk’s shooting percentage leaped to 9.5 percent.
Boychuk has always had a heavy shot. In Game 1 against Toronto in the opening round, Boychuk put his heat on display. After taking a drop pass from Krejci, Boychuk stepped into the puck and hammered one of his trademark slap shots. Goalie James Reimer didn’t have a chance.
But Boychuk turned to his little-used wrist shot, too. He scored two of his goals on New York’s Henrik Lundqvist in the second round with snap shots.
Boychuk’s scorching postseason hand started with two things: getting pucks through traffic and landing them on net.
“It’s not that easy, especially when you’ve got teams that are blocking every shot,” he said. “There’s a lot of good shot blockers now in the NHL.
“Getting your shot through — from the point, at least — is not as easy as people make it out to be. Getting your shots through is key.”
The 29-year-old Boychuk is learning that power doesn’t necessarily lead to results. Few players like stepping in front of a Boychuk shot. Last year, Krejci learned that lesson the hard way when Boychuk ripped a slap shot off his knee.
But Boychuk’s windup gives blockers time to fill lanes. Also, the slap shot is usually not as accurate as the wrister. If Boychuk wants more offensive responsibilities, the coaches want him to hit the net, not the glass.
“We’re encouraging them to put pucks on the net and everything else,” Julien said of his defensemen. “We want production from our back end, so it’s up to them to do the things we ask in order to make that happen, whether it’s supporting the play or hitting the net and releasing your shot quicker.
“When you talk about all those things, a lot of it is about confidence.”
Boychuk’s postseason production may be one factor in the Bruins’ exploration of deploying Zdeno Chara in front of the net on the power play. Boychuk averaged only 11 seconds of PP time per game last season. The Bruins were wary of using him in man-up situations because of his low shooting percentage.
But if Boychuk can find the net, he will be in the point mix alongside Krejci, Torey Krug, Dougie Hamilton, and Patrice Bergeron.
“That’d be great. I’m not going to lie,” Boychuk said. “I’ll try my best to do so and go from there.”
Malcolm Subban and P.K. Subban faced each other for the first time as NHLers.
The younger Subban, the Bruins’ first-round pick in 2011, split time in net with Chad Johnson. P.K. made his preseason debut with Montreal after sitting out Sunday against Buffalo. The Subbans’ parents attended the game after traveling from Toronto.
Malcolm Subban turned back all 12 shots he saw to backstop the Bruins to the win. Subban relieved Johnson in the second after the starter allowed his third goal on Montreal’s eighth shot. Price left the game at the same time.
“He’s shown signs of maturity and poise,” said Julien of Subban. “Certainly he’s on the right track. I couldn’t have been happier for him tonight, playing against his brother.”
It might be several years before the brothers square off in the regular season. Malcolm Subban will not make the Boston varsity out of camp. The first-year pro will most likely land in Providence. He also could see time in the ECHL if the Bruins deem that best for his development.
Subban, the second goalie picked in the draft, is athletic and competitive, but needs much refinement on his technique.
Subban had a better night than Johnson, who fought the puck. The Canadiens scored their first goal after a Louis Leblanc shot clanged off Johnson’s glove. Travis Moen popped in the rebound. The No. 2 job is Johnson’s to lose. But if Johnson can’t tighten up his game, Niklas Svedberg could enter the conversation.
Most of the players from Group B played on Monday. Chara and Gregory Campbell, who’ve been practicing with the group, didn’t make the trip. The Bruins will reduce Chara’s workload this season. Campbell, coming off his broken leg, is close to gaining clearance for game action. All other players were given Monday off. It was one of their two off days that are mandatory for every team in camp . . . Lucic, Krejci, and Shawn Thornton were the alternate captains . . . The Bruins were 4 for 6 on the power play. Krug (three assists) and Krejci manned the points on the first unit.