Playoff bandwagoning: Jarome Iginla and the Boston Bruins

Jim Rogash

Calgary isn't in the playoffs, but one guy we all know and dearly love certainly is.

So, your team didn't make the playoffs this year. For us, as pitiful Flames fans, it is a sad truth we all know far too well: five straight years and counting. That leaves us with pretty much three choices:

  1. Pretend the playoffs aren't happening and just go watch and/or do something else.
  2. Just sit back, watch, and enjoy with no strings attached.
  3. Pick a team and bandwagon them.
Last year I - and most of Calgary, from my understanding - jumped on the Penguins bandwagon. That didn't work out so well, what with a crushing sweep by the Bruins in the Eastern Conference Final, an inexplicable decision to tell a guy who had scored more than 500 goals on the right wing, "Yeah, play on the left side now," and a refusal to reunite what was assumed to be surefire Olympic chemistry.

This year, the Boston Bruins are the team to bandwagon, because that's where Jarome Iginla has made a home: and what a home he's made.

To quickly recap the Bruins' season: they scored 117 points, the best team in the league. The President's Trophy winners got 51 wins in regulation or overtime, 23 more than the Flames. They scored the third most goals in the league and let in only the second fewest for a league-best +84 goal differential (second place were Anaheim and St. Louis, both with +57).

The Bruins did get lucky over the course of their season. Their PDO - essentially, luck quantified - was the second highest in the league at 102.7, just behind the Anaheim Ducks, and just ahead of the Colorado Avalanche, the two western conference division winners.

Here's the key difference between the Bruins and the Ducks and Avs: the Bruins were one of the top possession teams of the regular season, while the Ducks and Avs were not. Boston was fourth in the league in fenwick close at 54.1%. Anaheim, meanwhile, was only 15th at 50.2%, and Colorado finished 27th at 46.8% (to put that into perspective, uh... the Flames finished 26th at 47.3%, and you don't exactly see the Flames in the playoffs, do you?).

So while the Bruins were lucky, they were also just flat out good. If you're on their team, and you're not on the fourth line, you're a positive possession player.

That's what Iginla was this season. He spent most of his time on a line with David Krejci and Milan Lucic, tied Patrice Bergeron for the Bruins' goal-scoring leader - 30, as if Iggy would score any fewer - and was third in overall team scoring with 61 points (behind Krejci and Bergeron, and just ahead of Lucic). He's 36 years old, but it shouldn't be any surprise that playing on a good team where he isn't the only offensive weapon around will result in a productive season for the future Hall of Famer.

If he's going to win a Cup - and he better - then this could very well be the year it happens. He's fit as hell; still scoring at an impressive rate; on an elite, seemingly charmed team; and playing in front of a really good Finnish goaltender.

And if cheering for the Bruins gives you any second thoughts - because, let's be honest, Boston sports - then remember two things:

  1. The Bruins are heroes. They stopped the Canucks in 2011, and we are all eternally grateful.
  2. Ray Bourque. Longtime (or at least knowledgable) Bruins fans know exactly what we, as Flames fans, are going through with Iggy.
It's an absolute hell of a team to bandwagon, and if you're a Flames fan, you've got a hell of a good excuse to do it. So... let's go Bruins, yeah? Let's go Iggy!
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