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Iginla more comfortable in second trip to Calgary

by Aaron Vickers / NHL.com

AVALANCHE (9-11-5) at FLAMES (16-8-2)

TV: SN1, TVA2, ALT

CALGARY -- It's not completely familiar territory to Colorado Avalanche forward Jarome Iginla, but his second return to Calgary as a member of the opposition has him feeling a little more comfortable.

Though he played 608 games in Scotiabank Saddledome as a member of the Calgary Flames, Iginla will suit up for the second time in the visitor's dressing room Thursday.

"The first time definitely a lot of things were surreal," said Iginla, who was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins on March 28, 2013 in exchange for forwards Kenny Agostino and Ben Hanowski, plus a first-round pick in the 2013 NHL Draft that was used to select Morgan Klimchuk. It was a trade that signaled a Flames rebuild.

"It was fun last time but I think every time coming is going to be special," Iginla said. "Playing here, a lot of great memories and living in the city for so long. But it's a little more relaxed and a little more focused on hockey.

"Different buildings around the League you get a good energy playing in and you like some better than others and I think this is always one that has good memories. Hopefully that energy not to be overboard but just to use that in a positive way."

The Saddledome is home to 268 of Iginla's 564 career NHL goals, and he has 570 of his 1,182 career points came in Calgary’s building, too.

Iginla, who played 1,219 games in 16 seasons with the Flames (1996-2013), remains the Calgary leader in games, goals (525) and points (1,095). His 570 assists are second to Al MacInnis (609).

He's never really left, according to Flames coach Bob Hartley.

"Great players, especially great people, they never leave an organization and they never leave a city," Hartley said. "You look at what Jarome Iginla did on the ice, what he did off the ice. It's part of the player but more importantly it's part of the human being. For me, that's where the value is.

"I had lots of fun with Jarome. Jarome was a great leader for us. As an organization, the decision was made that it was time to go in a rebuild mode and at the same time I think for Jarome, very similar to Ray Bourque, Jarome, maybe it was time for him to look for an opportunity to get a Stanley Cup.

"Sometimes it's great combinations that work both ways. He's been in Pittsburgh, he's been in Boston and now he's in Colorado. He's been on great hockey clubs and he's doing good. And it's good to see."

Though Iginla has visited once before, Flames captain Mark Giordano said it's still strange to see Iginla come down the wing in anything but Calgary's colors.

"With any ex-teammate, but I guess with [Iginla] a little bit more," said Giordano, "it's weird. It's different. Hopefully we can stop him tonight. He's a dangerous guy, especially down low and in the offensive zone. You've got to contain him."

The Flames did contain Iginla in his other visit to Calgary, a 2-1 win for the Boston Bruins.

In that Dec. 10, 2013 game, Iginla was held without a point in 21:36 of ice time but was named the game's third star. Bruins teammates forced Iginla to take a second postgame spin on the ice to acknowledge the Calgary fans.

It's what stands out the most from his first trip.

"I was pretty nervous, pretty excited," Iginla said. "Probably a little bit over-excited. I think just the game ... looking back, when the guys made me go back around for another loop, wasn't loving that but it was a neat experience."

He also was greeted with a video tribute and several standing ovations in the emotional return.

Iginla admitted that, with his first return out of the way and stored in his memory, the second go-round will be easier.

"This time I think I'll enjoy every time I come back here and it's a lot more relaxed and you can just try to play well. But it's neat to be back on the ice," he said. "I've played so many games and I'm very familiar. It's great. Looking forward to it."

Here are the projected lineups:

AVALANCHE

Alex Tanguay - Matt Duchene - Ryan O'Reilly

Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Jarome Iginla

Maxime Talbot - Michael Sgarbossa - Daniel Briere

Cody McLeod - Tomas Vincour - Nick Holden

Jan Hejda - Erik Johnson

Nate Guenin - Tyson Barrie

Karl Stollery - Zach Redmond

Semyon Varlamov

Reto Berra

Scratched: None

Injured: Patrick Bordeleau (back surgery), Marc-Andre Cliche (oblique), Dennis Everberg (separated shoulder), Jamie McGinn (back), John Mitchell (leg), Ben Street (hand), Brad Stuart (hamstring), Ryan Wilson (shoulder), Jesse Winchester (concussion)

FLAMES

Curtis Glencross - Sean Monahan - David Jones

Johnny Gaudreau - Josh Jooris - Jiri Hudler

Michael Ferland - Mikael Granlund - Paul Byron

Brandon Bollig - Lance Bouma - Sven Baertschi

Mark Giordano - TJ Brodie

Kris Russell - Dennis Wideman

Ladislav Smid - Deryk Engelland

Karri Ramo

Jonas Hiller

Scracthed: Brian McGrattan, Raphael Diaz, Matt Stajan

Injured: Sam Bennett (shoulder surgery), Mikael Backlund (abdomen), Joe Colborne (upper body), Mason Raymond (shoulder), Matt Stajan (knee)

Status update: Varlamov, a finalist for the Vezina Trophy last season, is returning after missing the past six games with a groin injury.

Who’s hot: Tanguay, also a former member of the Flames, has one goal and four assists in a three-game span. … Hudler takes a five-game point streak into Thursday. The 30-year-old has five goals and 10 points during that span, including four multipoint games.

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