He was so close, so many times. At points in Saturday night’s complete effort against the Lightning in Tampa, Jarome Iginla was inches from scoring his first goal of the season. But while the Bruins got tallies from players on each of their forward lines — David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, Chris Kelly, and Shawn Thornton — Iginla remained without one.
Asked if he felt for Iginla, coach Claude Julien didn’t hesitate.
“I don’t really feel for him, and I’ll tell you why — because I think he’s played really well,” Julien said. “I know that he’s going to score eventually, so I don’t think he needs any pity from us.
“When I look at his game, I see everything he does. He wins battles, he’s strong along the walls, he’s in the right places to get those scoring chances. I think it’s just a matter of time. He’s been around for so long. I don’t think he’s frustrated. I think he knows and we all know that once he starts scoring, they’re going to come in bunches.”
Krejci, Iginla’s linemate, understands trying to get over the hump. The goal on Saturday was his first of the season, coming on a nice cross-crease feed from Milan Lucic. The line has seen its chemistry improve, and Krejci believes Iginla’s first is not far away.
“I feel like we’ve been playing pretty good hockey the last few games,” Krejci said. “It’s coming. It’s just about getting the first one, getting the monkey off your back. I believe once Iggy’s going to get it, he’s going to be putting the puck in the net more often.
“Hopefully, he’ll get at least 30 goals this year.”
While Iginla didn’t score a goal Saturday night, he did score in another area — with a few punches on Radko Gudas. The pair dropped the gloves for the second time this season, also fighting in the season opener. Iginla, who declined to speak after Saturday’s game, had just three fights in each of the last two seasons, according to hockeyfights.com.
On the offensive
The defensive rotation continues to go game by game. But in the last two, it couldn’t have worked out better.
Dougie Hamilton and Adam McQuaid came back from being healthy scratches to score goals, with McQuaid’s coming in the second period against the Lightning.
“There’s no doubt he was good tonight,” Julien said on Saturday of McQuaid, who also fought Nate Thompson. “I really liked his game. He responded well, and that’s what you want.
“Guys don’t want to sit and watch. Although we’ve got extra bodies, it’s happening. So you like to see the response that you got from him tonight, and Dougie the other night as well. Just keeps everybody going. As long as they’ve got the right attitude, they come back even better.”
That’s the best-case scenario for Julien and he tinkers with the rotation.
“I don’t know if every time someone sits they’re going to come in and score a goal, but my mind-set wasn’t really coming into tonight that I needed to try and pull out a whole lot,” McQuaid said. “It was more just wanting to play my game. I think it’s pretty obvious that everyone wants to play and when you get the chance to play you want to be at your best.”
One Bruin remains without a point: Gregory Campbell. But that’s not indicative of the way he or his line has played. Not that points are always the measure of the fourth line, but it has produced goals in consecutive games, with Daniel Paille scoring against Florida Thursday and Thornton’s goal against the Lightning. “It’s something that our line as a group has to work a little bit harder than most to score goals,” Campbell said. “That’s OK. It’s part of our game, hard work. We take pride in that, but goals never seem to come easy. I think chances are a start, and hopefully after we get a few chances, more goals will come.” Added Thornton, “I think we’ve been putting some pretty good efforts in the whole season. A little bit snakebit on some chances, so it was nice to score the last couple games. [Paille’s] definitely been on the top of his game. Both of those goals were probably the product of his hard work.” . . . The Bruins had Sunday off before returning to practice Monday in advance of their game in Buffalo Wednesday.Amalie Benjamin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @amaliebenjamin.