BOSTON — So, yeah. The Jarome Iginla signing has worked out pretty well so far for the Bruins.
The Bruins extended their season-long winning streak to nine games on Monday night with a 4-1 win over the Minnesota Wild. There was nothing remarkably interesting or too impressive about it. The win was another workmanlike effort in which the Bruins used balanced scoring, layered defense and top-notch goaltending to come away with two points. They have been doing that all season long and have become a bit boring and predictable what with all this winning and stuff.
So we search for other narratives to latch onto. One of the storylines that keeps coming up is the play of Iginla. The future Hall of Famer has been incredibly valuable for the Bruins this season. He’s lived up to and exceeded practically all expectations. On a night when he was playing the 1,300th game of his career, Iginla scored twice Monday and now has 25 goals on the season. That’s the 14th time he’s reached that mark. Despite being 36 years old and playing a young man’s game, Iginla continues to impress every night.
Iginla doesn’t just put up the numbers. Maybe what’s been so intriguing for those who are getting to see him up close and personal for the first time this season is that he never takes a night off. He’s still a responsible player who’s not afraid to mix it up from time to time. Even when he’s not scoring, he finds ways to produce. It was his post-whistle scrum with Marc Staal on March 2 that sparked the Bruins that night on their way to a 6-3 win, and they haven’t lost since.
Perhaps that’s where Iginla differs most from his predecessor, Nathan Horton. While Horton was a fine player who had an above-average scoring touch, he would disappear from time to time. That hasn’t happened with Iginla this season, and it’s probably no coincidence that linemates Milan Lucic and David Krejci haven’t dipped in production or consistency much at all, either.
“That was a big hole to fill,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “He’s come in there and filled that hole really well. Obviously, you mention all the stats. I don’t have to repeat that. He’s fit in so well with that line. He brings us the same thing the other guy did with his size and his scoring ability. He’s done a great job. And again, we’re talking about a veteran here who has tremendous leadership qualities.”
Those leadership qualities are evident on and off the ice where Iginla has come into a veteran-heavy dressing room and added even more leadership to an already sound room.
“He just goes out and plays his game and plays hard and does everything extremely well,” fellow veteran Chris Kelly said. “Not just one aspect of his game, he’s not just a scorer. He plays hard, he fights, he blocks shots. He’s out there last minute when we’re up by a goal or down by a goal. He’s one of the best all-around players of all time I think. Just lucky to get to play with him.”
What the future after this season holds for Iginla and the Bruins is yet to be decided. Both sides are hoping that they have to play a lot of hockey before they start discussing such matters. Until then, the B’s will lean on Iginla, hoping that he continues to find the back of the net while being thankful he’s on their side now.