Iginla Pressing But Has Been Here Before
And when it's on, it's on.
But right now, the inches separating the right winger from his first goal as a Bruin, seem more like feet.
"I had some great looks tonight, I’ve had great looks for a few games," Iginla said following the Bruins' 3-2 loss to Detroit on Monday afternoon. He's recorded 19 shots on goal through his first five games in the spoked-B. He has one assist, but no G's on the stat sheet.
Against the Wings, he fired 11 attempts. None more lethal than when he readied for the one-timer from the left circle.
During a 5-on-3 just five minutes into the third period, with the Bruins trailing 3-1 and maintaining possession in the offensive zone, Iginla was at the ready.
The first fire snapped just wide, the second was blocked, the third missed the target.
"I had a few of them but two were good ones, one I just missed probably, by a couple inches, the top right corner, one I missed by a mile and that was just trying to hard and too excited and just missed it," said the winger. "But I thought – when you're feeling it, those go in and unfortunately they didn’t."
"It was an important time of the game; it could have been a big difference. And you get out there in those situations and you definitely want to help the team and feel responsibility, all of us out there."
Iginla isn't the only Bruin pressing, though.
"I don’t think our guys don’t feel they can score. I think we’re pressing right now and that’s probably what you’re seeing," Head Coach Claude Julien remarked postgame.
"We go through that it seems like every year at some point."
If the Bruins had won Monday, Iginla's brief five-game drought - if we can even call it that - may have been a subheading to a team finding chemistry with its new additions.
"I’ve had really good chances for a number of games. Whenever you win you never feel as bad, you just shrug it off and say next time," he said. "But whenever you lose by a goal it always feels a lot worse when you know that one of those could have made a difference."
"I think he can shoot the puck a lot better than we’ve seen him because we know he’s a good shooter," Julien said of Iginla. "So whether that’s pressing or whether that’s circumstances I don’t know."
"But he’s been around the league long enough, he’s going to find his way and he’s going to score some goals for us and he’s going to be the player that we thought he would be for our hockey club."
"So right now, it just isn’t there and I see maybe a little hesitation in shooting where, when a player has confidence, their release is a little quicker, too."
Before the 5-on-3 opportunity, four minutes into the second period, with the game knotted at one goal apiece, a 3-on-2 rush saw Milan Lucic drive down the right side, draw the defenders, and set up a feed from David Krejci to Iginla for the one-timer. Detroit's Jonas Gustavsson made the stop.
"I think it’s probably just being a little too anxious. Just lifting my head up and you want to get that goal for the team and just get one and get feeling it," said Iginla.
"At times you squeeze a little too hard, its all those clichés, sayings you hear, you try to swing a little too hard and lift my head a little bit. And just not in a groove there where you just want to kind of will it in the net, as opposed to let it happen."
For the NHL veteran in his 17th season in the league, his mindset is simple moving forward - don't overthink, keep shooting, keep driving the net.
"And you just get one," he said, of all it takes to get the confidence back. "It’s amazing how much better you feel and how much the puck feels better."
"I’m not discouraged by any means. Disappointed today [Monday] and disappointed when you lose the close games but not discouraged."
There's no discouragement because, for a winger who had 12 straight seasons of 30 or more goals before the 2012-13 lockout-shortened season, he's been through this before.
"I mean, unfortunately, I’ve been here many times. It’s all part of the game and you just try to work hard and keep going and keep getting the chances and always keep saying that the next one is going to go in," said Iginla.
"It’s something that’s pretty much a yearly thing. You go through it, you get chances and part of scoring goals is you want to get chances consistently and that’s what you really count on as far as the percentages, and it goes in streaks and you want to make the good ones as long as you can and the bad ones as short as you can."
In Iginla's 32-goal season in 2011-12, he scored just twice in his first 10 games. As is common amidst an 82-game season, he went through stretches of five, six and seven games without scoring.
When he put up 43 goals in 2010-11, he notched only two goals in his first 15 games. He endured a 10-game scoreless drought even amidst his 50-goal season in 2007-08.
"But the biggest part of it is just trying to get those chances consistently and staying positive and keep shooting it."
On a line with Krejci and Lucic, there will be plenty more chances for the winger to find the twine.
"I’ve been fortunate to play with Krech and Looch and they're playing very well and I'm getting lots of great passes and great opportunities," he said. "There’s no excuses, I’ve been here many times before and I believe I’ll come out of it."
"If he gets one, they’ll come in bunches," Lucic agreed. "So I think we know he’s a professional and he’s definitely a guy that’s not going to be frustrated, and he’s going to work through it."