Jarome Iginla, 35, can’t remember a previous time in his NHL career when he’s been in a situation like this. His newly adopted Pittsburgh Penguins enter the playoffs with a team that, at least on paper, is overwhelming.
“In the NHL, we [the Flames] never got there,” Iginla told the Penguins’ website. “Even when we went to the Cup Final [in 2004] it was all underdog stuff, so I haven’t been in this situation in the NHL.”
And it sounds like Iginla loves his new situation.
“I’m feeling as good as I’ve felt now as far as energy than I have in a while,” Iginla said. “I don’t mean years or anything, but this year has been a tough year. It was a contract year, we had the lockout, and I knew we had to get off to a good start or I was maybe moving. There were unknowns, uncertainties. I love playing hockey, still love it as much as I ever have, but it was stressful leading up to the trade.
“This is exciting, this new experience. I don’t feel that pressure or have that pressure of being a leader at all.”
It’s true that the Penguins don’t depend on him to nearly the same extent that the Flames did. Iginla has five goals and 11 points in 12 games this month, but that’s only good enough to put him in a tie for third place on the Penguins’ April leaderboard. That’s in a month where Evgeni Malkin and James Neal missed significant time while Sidney Crosby didn’t play at all.
Pittsburgh has so many talented forwards that Iginla doesn’t necessarily need to be a superstar for the Penguins to succeed in the playoffs. That doesn’t mean he won’t be though. After all, this is the best shot he’s had in a long time to finally win the Stanley Cup.