Goalless Jagr 'would like to help the team more'

Goalless Jagr 'would like to help the team more'
May 18, 2013, 4:00 pm
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BOSTON – The always fascinating Jaromir Jagr is doing the best he can to keep up with a couple of speedy youngsters in Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron.

But it hasn’t been all that productive since they’ve been teamed together in the last couple of games, and Jagr looked winded in skating a playoff-high 23:11 of ice time in Game 1 against the New York Rangers -- almost five minutes more ice time than he’d received in any of seven playoff games in the Maple Leafs series.

Part of the issue is clearly the challenge for the 41-year-old future Hall of Famer in keeping up with younger, newer models like Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron, but the 6-foot-3, 240-pounder does bring something a little different to the table.

His ability to slow the play down and see passing windows open up before they actually happen can create offense for his teammates. Jagr has the four assists in eight games to show for it, but is feeling the pressure with zero goals in those very same eight playoff games. Jagr casually mentioned shooting the puck more, but is actually among the team leaders with 27 shots on net.

So, just as with Tyler Seguin, it’s about burying the shots that the offensive force is able to generate.

That becomes a little more challenging in today’s NHL when you’re a 41-year-old legend keeping up with players half your age.

“Hopefully I can feel better, and score more. It’s the playoffs. It’s harder to score for me, and it’s harder to score for everybody. It’s not the first time, and hopefully it’s not the last time. It’s not about how many goals that you’ve scored before; any good play can give you the confidence, or change things around,” said Jagr of going 10 straight games between the regular season and playoffs since scoring his last goal. “Of course I’d like to help this team more than I am right now.

“The only thing that matters is that you should feel better than the guy you’re playing against. That’s what always has been my thing. Even if I felt bad, I was always telling myself that this guy I’m playing against is feeling worse than me. You’ve got to kind of trick the brain, I guess.”

As with anything in life, Jagr is clearly not the same guy that he was as an NHL rookie in 1990 when he was scoring goals for the Pittsburgh Penguins, and kicking off a career that’s been colorful, productive and full of spectacular mullets. But maybe that’s not such a bad thing for a hockey player that sounds like someone fresh off a heart-to-heart conversation with Ferris Bueller.

“You learn every day. Once you stop learning, you’re kinda dead or you have to quit. I’m 41 and I’m learning every day. The game is changing. The world moves fast. The game is quicker, everything is quicker,” said Jagr, who was robbed in Game 6 of the Toronto series when James Reimer made a save with the handle of his goalie stick. “If you want to keep playing in the league then you have to adjust. You can’t play the same way you did in 1990, when it’s 2013.

“The players are quicker and better everywhere. Like everything else, it’s getting better. You could be driving the best car in 1990 right now, and you’d look stupid.”

The image of Jagr, mullet flowing in the wind, stepping out of a 1990 Trans Am is just as glorious now as it would have been when he was a rookie in Pittsburgh. But the 41-year-old is right on this level.

The young, dominant Jagr isn’t walking through that door for the Black and Gold during the playoffs, and the Bruins are simply hoping to squeeze a few points and solid power play possessions out of the living legend this spring. Jagr has had plenty of chances through eight games, and the odds are he’ll eventually break through for the Black and Gold if he keeps knocking on the door.