Would the Bruins be the defending Stanley Cup champions right now and not the Chicago Blackhawks? It's certainly a reasonable question with the benefit of how well Iginla has fit in with the Bruins this season.
The 36-year-old right wing has enjoyed a season for the ages. When he scored twice against the Washington Capitals last Saturday, he became only the 21st different player in NHL history to score 30 or more goals at the age of 36 years or older (10 players have accomplished the feat more than once):
30+ goals scored by players aged 36+
48 - Teemu Selanne, age 36, for Anaheim in 2006-07
44 - Gordie Howe, age 40, for Detroit in 1968-69
42 - Phil Esposito, age 36, for N.Y. Rangers in 1978-79
40 - John Bucyk, age 37, for Boston in 1972-73
40 - Brendan Shanahan, age 37, for Detroit in 2005-06
39 - Gordie Howe, age 39, for Detroit in 1967-68
39 - Brett Hull, age 36, for Dallas in 2000-01
38 - Joe Mullen, age 36, for Pittsburgh in 1993-94
37 - Brett Hull, age 38, for Detroit in 2002-03
36 - John Bucyk, age 40, for Boston in 1975-76
36 - Bill Guerin, age 36, for St. Louis/San Jose in 2006-07
36 - Mark Messier, age 36, for NYR in 1996-97
36 - Joe Sakic, age 37, for Colorado in 2006-07
35 - Dino Ciccarelli, age 36, for Tampa Bay in 1996-97
35 - Mike Gartner, age 36, for Toronto in 1995-96
34 - Phil Esposito, age 37, for NYR in 1979-80
33 - Jean Beliveau, age 37, for Montreal in 1968-69
33 - Jean Ratelle, age 36, for Boston in 1976-77
32 - John Bucyk, age 36, for Boston in 1971-72
32 - Mike Gartner, age 37, for Phoenix in 1996-97
32 - Joe Sakic, age 32, for Colorado in 2005-06
32 - Mats Sundin, age 36, for Toronto in 2007-08
31 - Jean Beliveau, age 36, for Montreal in 1967-68
31 - John Bucyk, age 38, for Boston in 1973-74
31 - Marcel Dionne, age 36, for NYR in 1987-88
31 - Gordie Howe, age 41, for Detroit in 1969-70
31 - Frank Mahovlich, age 36, for Montreal in 1973-74
31 - Bob Nevin, age 36, for Los Angeles in 1974-75
31 - Teemu Selanne, age 40, for Anaheim in 2010-11
30 - Brett Hull, age 37, for Detroit in 2001-02
30 - Jarome Iginla, age 36, for Boston in 2013-14
30 - Martin St. Louis, age 38, for Tampa Bay/NYR in 2013-14
Even Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli raised his eyebrows when Iginla's agent Don Meehan phoned him last July to see if there was interest on Boston's part to land the unrestricted free agent.
It was just over a year ago - March 28, 2013, to be exact - that Chiarelli thought he had acquired Iginla in a trade with the Calgary Flames. But Iginla instead exercised his contractual right to accept a trade to the Penguins later that night.
As fate would have it, the Bruins dominated Pittsburgh in the Eastern Conference final. Iginla was held pointless in four games and checked in with only five shots on goal.
He was disappointed, but he also was impressed with the Bruins game. He admired Boston's blue-collar work ethic, its straight-line system and the Bruins' determination. It was a style that suited Iginla's game.
He saw a fit - and good for Chiarelli for not holding a grudge.
"You don't harbour any ill feelings and I told Jarome [last July when he signed] when I talked to him I said, 'It's part of the business.' When Don Meehan called me, I raised my eyebrows and I said, 'Really?' I was excited," Chiarelli said.
Iginla has played the entire season alongside centre David Krejci and left wing Milan Lucic. Iginla started slow. It took him until his ninth game in his new black-and-gold sweater before he scored his first goal with Boston, but he's enjoyed another Iginla-type season. He hit the 30-goal mark for the 12th consecutive season that wasn't shortened by a lockout.
He was particularly good in March, when he scored 13 times in 17 games. Iginila was named player of the month as the Bruins went an incredible 15-1-1.
"For me, [Iginla's] slow start was only production-wise and certainly not from work ethic and commitment," Bruins head coach Claude Julien said earlier this week.
"He finds his groove, he finds his hands and everything that comes with it and, at the end of the season, where we are right now, he's playing some of his best hockey. It's a good thing for us to witness that with him and he's very deserving of that award."
Since the 2004-05 NHL lockout, only Alex Ovechkin's 419 goals in 673 games is more than Iginla's 310 in 673 games and, in the same time span, only eight others have played more than the durable Iginla's 681 games.
Chiarelli worked out a salary-cap friendly deal with Meehan that pays Iginla a $1.8-million base salary and a $3.7-million games-played bonus. Now that Iginla has hit the 30-goal mark, he's also eligible for a $250,000 bonus if the Bruins win the East final and another $250,000 if they capture the Stanley Cup.
After a trip to the final with the Flames a decade ago and another visit to the conference final last June, the only triumph that matters to Iginla is a Stanley Cup championship and he has found the best place to attain that feat with the Bruins.
Follow Tim Wharnsby on Twitter @WharnsbyCBC
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