Photo: Rob Carr

For 10 years, Jarome Iginla was the captain of the Calgary Flames. He was the franchise, in the same way Alex Ovechkin is now synonymous with the Washington Capitals. But in Iginla’s last few years with the team, the Flames got bad. Wanting to win a Cup before his career was over, Iginla engineered a trade to the Pittsburgh Penguins last year, spurring the Boston Bruins at the last second. The closest Iginla had ever come was a Stanley Cup Final appearance in 2004.

Ironically, the Bruins headed to the Final against the Blackhawks last season, with another year ticking off on Iginla’s career. He signed a one-year, $6 million contract with the Bruins this offseason. At 36, Iginla is on the top team in the east. The Bruins clinched the Atlantic Division by beating Washington on Saturday afternoon.

“It’s been a fun year,” Iginla told reporters after the game. “It’s been fun to win games and battling at the top of the league, to be on some streaks as a group and see them go in too. It’s been fun.”

Though he was welcomed to the team with little animosity after last year’s decision, Iginla got off to a slow start with the Bruins. In the first two and a half months of the season, he scored just four goals. But against the Caps this afternoon, Iginla scored twice. He hit 30 goals for the 12th time in his career, one of just nine other players to accomplish that feat.

“It feels good,” Iginla said. “I feel fortunate. I’ve been able to throughout my career play with some great passers, great linemates. This year is the same.”

Iginla got his first goal streaking in towards Braden Holtby after a defensive breakdown by the Capitals in the neutral zone, giving the Bruins the lead in the second period. The second goal was a backhand whack from the slot that Holtby let get through his pads. Iginla now has 560 goals in his 18 year NHL career.

“With the start he had, nobody would have predicted that,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said of Iginla’s feat this season. “He’s even-keel no matter what. When he didn’t score at the beginning of the year you didn’t see panic. You saw a guy coming to work everyday with a smile on his face and being happy to be part of the group. There was no stress. He just kept working.”

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  • Most stat nerds (e.g. me) thought signing Iggy was a huge mistake for the Bruins.

  • CSA

    If something doesn’t change with this organization soon those first two sentences will be repeated with OV. Even with him locked into the long term deal. I really hope something changes this off season and we make a splash or large change to this lineup and start maximizing things. Kind of tired of the same old same old. Feels like the late 80’s – early 90’s teams that we fielded. Always got into the playoffs and never did a damn thing. #Frustrated right now.

  • Troy

    Ovechkin is great, but in today’s NHL I would say building a team around a pure goalscorer won’t work… Which is a problem.
    Two way hockey and possession is so important now, neither of which anyone but the 3rd line on the caps can do.

  • Myan

    I am genuinely worried that Ovi’s career is going to follow a similar path if the management doesn’t change in Washington. When you have a goalscorer as prolific as Ovi and you can’t make the playoffs, something is wrong. GMGM needs to stop deluding himself & the fanbase into thinking that everything is fine because it is painfully obvious that is not true.

  • Rob W.

    I wish we had a coach that was halfway as good as Claude Julien. Oates would give Iginla the erat treatment

  • Eric Schulz

    To be fair to Ovechkin, you can’t build your team around ANYONE. You have to have a foundation. And, really, I think we have a fine one: Ovechkin, Backstrom, Kuznetsov, Wilson… keep Grabovski. If I had my druthers, I’d keep Penner too; I doubt it. On defense, Alzner and Carlson, Green, Orlov. In goal, Holtby. The problem is finding the surrounding cast. We need better partners for Green and Orlov. If you had to find a perfect partner for Green from Caps’ history, you’d have to go WAY back to maybe Joe Reekie (maybe further, to Langway?), which speaks to why GMGM NEEDS to go. That he has, year after year, refused to address our biggest problem speaks to a lack of ability to properly evaluate our team, the free agent market, and the trade market. As I’ve said many times before: moving out Forsberg without getting that shutdown defender in return was a monumental mistake.

    As far as the supporting cast on the forward lines: I think we’re MOSTLY good. Between Brouwer, Johansson, Laich, Fehr, Brown, Chimera, Ward, Beagle, we can put together a legit 3rd and 4th line. We could benefit from better faceoffs and some forwards who are better on defense; again, as I’ve said before, I’d look to trade Johansson and Carrick for Frans Nielsen… a trade like that, I think, would make our forwards contender-caliber (remember, Grabovski’s been out for most of the season, Kuznetsov has played only 8 NHL games… we are a better team than we’ve been this year). If we addressed those weaknesses, then it’d be up to Oates and Calle Jo. GMGM needs to be fired, as he has refused to address the bigger, more glaring weakness, and he has had more than enough time to do so. Oates and Calle Jo haven’t impressed me a lot, but they are VERY early in their coaching careers, and they WILL get better. Considering the shit sandwich Calle Jo was handed by GMGM, I’m not sure how much blame he deserves (some, yes, but not how much). I think most of good coaching isn’t obvious to the viewer. I hate how Oates has handled the line combinations, but that’s a relatively small part of coaching. If we could hand those 2 a complete team (and we pretty easily could with just 2 or 3 moves in the offseason aside from resignings), then we could begin to properly evaluate the coaching staff.

    Postscript: I like Johansson, he’s shown solid two-way play during his career (unfortunately, not as much lately), and has flashed some skill that speaks to at least 2nd line upside (he’s played on the 1st, but nobody thinks of him as a 1st line talent). He’s young, he’s playing out of position, and his contract is excellent; for a player like him (young, talented, frustrating), I think 2 years for $2 million per is just about right… it’s hard to get a player with that talent too much cheaper, and the 2 years is just about right to give him enough time to develop into the player he will be. At his age, if he isn’t the guy I think he *can* be in 2 years, he probably will never get there. If he *does* get there, then his contract will be up and he’ll be in line for a raise. If so, great, he’ll deserve it; I never have a problem with paying a guy what he deserves, you just can’t overpay.

  • Eric Schulz

    Oates would play Iginla on the 2nd line, behind Ovechkin. Oates’ problem (with line combinations) isn’t identifying 1st line talent, it’s properly identifying supporting/complementary talent. Erat and Penner are both complementary talent. (IMO, Erat is a guy who is best suited to a 3rd line role; he helps make your team deeper, and he lifts the play of the 3rd line. I wouldn’t use him on the top-6 however, unless there was an injury. Penner, IMO, is a great top line guy – especially for this team – because of his ability to be physical and do the dirty work; he just makes things easier for his linemates, even if he doesn’t produce points like he used to. Paired with Backstrom and Ovechkin, his excellent forechecking would result in more possession for that line – a double-whammy since less time on defense helps because they aren’t great there (mostly Ovie, although Backstrom is more of a neutral-zone defender), and more time with the puck for those 2 is a huge problem for the opposition as well; he is big enough and physical enough that he could take the brunt of the boardwork, allowing Backstrom to pick his spots better, and allowing Ovie to not be the only guy on his line actually checking the other team; his net-front presence, particularly at that size, should make it harder for goalies to stop shots from those two (okay, just Ovie; SHOOT, Backstrom!), which is difficult for them even under better circumstances. Penner is a great complementary 1st liner… seeing Oates misuse him hurts me way more than him misusing Erat… for 3 or 4 reasons. Maybe I’ll get into that later, but for now, I have to hit up the gym.)

  • Owen Johnson

    Julien is a good coach, so apologies to him when all I think of when I see him is

  • Owen Johnson

    Don’t want the Bs to win. Simply because Boston teams win too much. When someone tells me “but the Celtics have only won 1 since the millennium,” I just glare at them and say “exactly.”

  • Rob W.

    this will never not be hilarious

  • Diller M

    The Penner role would replace knuble, who was supposed to be replaced by brower, but that’s not really his game. Ovi hasn’t been the same at evens since Knuble dropped off.