Physical style of imposing Bruins just fine with Iginla
Jarome Iginla is ready for a battering.
Physicality — a part of the Boston Bruins' DNA for about 40 years, and especially now — is not something from which Iginla will shy away in the Eastern Conference final.
Actually, he will take it any day over more questions about his decision to play for the Penguins instead of the club that stands between them and a return to the Stanley Cup Final.
“Well, I do like to get engaged physically — in the corner, to bump and be bumped,” Iginla said Wednesday after the Penguins practiced at Consol Energy Center. “I do like to play that style of hockey, and I know we're going to have no shortage of it in this series.”
Iginla has scored four goals and recorded 12 points in the playoffs. He has yet to produce a signature moment like those that turned him into an icon with the Calgary Flames.
He agreed to leave Calgary in March to join the Penguins. He wanted to chase the Cup that has eluded him over 16 NHL seasons, and the Penguins — led by former MVP and scoring-champion centers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin — provided him the best chance, Iginla said.
He had nothing personal against the Bruins, whose general manager Peter Chiarelli said he had a deal with Calgary that was nixed by Iginla.
“When I was faced with that choice, I was fortunate a couple of really good teams were interested,” Iginla said. “I guessed it was a possibility it would be this case.”
In March, Iginla assessed the Penguins as a deeper squad, one for which he would not be required to carry among the heaviest loads along a path toward the Cup.
The Bruins' defense — a black-and-gold forest of 6-footers led by captain Zdeno Chara (6-9) — stands as a considerable road block.
That defense corps, despite injuries that forced smaller contributors (Torey Krug) into the lineup, had its way with physically imposing New York Rangers forwards in Round 2. Rick Nash, one of the dominant power forwards of the past decade, was rarely noticeable for the Rangers.
Nash, though, had never played in the second round.
Iginla is hardened mentally by a Game 7 in the Cup Final (2003) and is quite familiar with opponents trying to take him on physically from all angles over a best-of-seven series.
The Bruins would do him a favor by trying that approach.
“The more physical, and the more you go on adrenaline and intensity, for myself, personally, it takes away the thinking,” Iginla said. “And that's a good thing for my game.”
That should work for Malkin and right winger James Neal, too.
That dangerous duo — Malkin and Neal were first-team All-Stars last season — finished Round 2 formidably. Neal scored five goals over Games 4 and 5. Malkin played poised between the hashes while also adding a goal and an assist.
Opponents often try to frustrate Malkin and Neal into a state in which they may choose force over the flow that benefits their natural skills.
Iginla, playing the opposite side with Malkin and Neal, is on their line in part to help keep them composed. Also, coach Dan Bylsma said, he'll serve as a deterrent in case a member of the opposition tries to prove who's bad.
“This is more based on when I played against Jarome than what you can visibly see on the ice, but you don't mess around when this guy's on the ice,” Bylsma said.
“He's a fierce competitor. He sets the tone. There's not a lot of people who aren't put in check when Jarome's on the ice.”
The Bruins knew that in March.