CALGARY - Likely no NHL player looks forward to Halloween more than Jarome Iginla.
It’s not because of some desire to dress up in costume, munch on chocolate bars or go bobbing for apples.
Halloween means the end of the NHL’s opening month, and it usually indicates better times are ahead for the Calgary Flames captain.
“I’ve had a few frustrating Octobers,” he admitted after Sunday’s practice at the Stampede Corral.
Add October 2011 to that list for Iginla, whose team returns to action Tuesday against the Vancouver Canucks.
With nine games in the books for the Flames, the franchise’s all-time leader in every offensive category managed just two goals and two assists, along with a minus-3 rating.
The chase for career goal No. 500 has been crawling along. He needs 14 more.
“October, unfortunately, hasn’t been great for me,” he said. “As a team, we’re playing better and want to continue that roll.
“It feels good coming out of October.”
Considering he missed all of the pre-season due to a back problem and had just a handful of practices before the season kicked off, it was a good bet Iginla would not be a massive point producer in the early going.
(By the way, he said the back has “nothing to do with” his struggles.)
But this month been a real struggle.
“Last game was rough,” Iginla said. “The game before last game was good, but last game, I know I can be better.
“I don’t have the answer why it takes a little time to get going for me. I’ve tried all different things and will continue to try to have better Octobers, but I am positive and optimistic.
“I’ve been through this often enough before to know I can play through it, keep working, and things will come back and get better.”
History has shown November is usually very good for Iginla.
He has been at a point-per-game or better in November in each of the last six seasons.
In fact, starting with the 2000-01 season, he has hit double digits for points in eight of the 10 months of November, and has been below a point-per-game pace only three times.
You bet Iginla knows of his past history in the 11th month.
“Absolutely, you think of the positive things. You try to draw on the past success and have that confidence — which I do have — things will get better,” he said. “I believe it’s going to be a great November.
“I have been through it and know to just break it down. It’s the next game. The next period will be a good one. The next shot will go in. I’ll keep thinking those things. From the past, I know it’ll roll again.”
Of course, it wouldn’t hurt if his linemates would get rolling.
Alex Tanguay may be leading the team with eight points, but he admits he hasn’t been at his best.
Brendan Morrison has played five games and has yet to garner a point.
“In order for our team to move up in the standings, you need every element of your team firing on all cylinders,” Tanguay said. “We haven’t been firing as well as we’d like. We’re contributing at times, but not the level we should be at.
“But with Jarome, at the end of the year, he’ll get a certain amount of great chances and score with 20% or 25% of them, and it’s going to result in 35-40 goals like it has over the past 12 years.”