PITTSBURGH – There were murmurs and speculation that hinted Jaromir Jagr was headed for a healthy scratch for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals after going scoreless in six straight playoff games.
It seemed crazy. The 41-year-old Hall of Famer had consistently generated scoring chances. Why would he be benched in favor of a player like Kasper Daugavins, who was waived by the Ottawa Senators only a couple of months ago.
It’s a good thing for the Black and Gold that crazy didn’t happen. Instead Jagr recorded a pair of assists in a 6-1 drubbing of the Penguins in Game 2 at the CONSOL Energy Center. It snapped a six-game scoreless stretch for the legendary right wing, and any talk of his offensive struggles ceased when he flipped a slick backhanded pass to Patrice Bergeron for a one-timer in the third period.
That came after Jagr also made a nice play along the wall at the end of the first period that freed both Bergeron and Marchand for Boston’s fourth goal, a response to the Brandon Sutter goal for Pittsburgh. It turned out to be a huge turning point for the Bruins after which they never looked back, and when the Penguins pretty much folded up their tent.
“Jagr really was on his game," Bergeron said. "I tried to get open, and he was finding me and [Marchand] and made a huge play on that goal, actually late in that first, on the wall. It goes a long way. It's a little detail but it goes a long way, and I thought he was awesome for us tonight.”
As is the case with pretty much every Hall of Famer, Jagr’s confidence didn’t falter all that much through his offensive slump. He still had the sense of humor, joking that his Wolverine facial hair came about because he’s shaving all of the spots with gray stubble.
But the smile clearly comes a little bit more quickly to Jagr’s face when he factors into the offense, and he was happy to be wearing the Bruins Army Ranger jacket on Monday night.
“We are all happy, but we understand that to win the series we need four wins,” said Jagr, who was plus-3 with a pair of assists and one shot on goal in 14:24 of ice time in the blowout win. “I stopped counting [my points] a long time ago, you know? I’ve said it before, I’d rather not score and be still playing rather than scoring and being home on vacation.
“It’s a team game. Sometimes you try everything and it doesn’t go in. It’s not the first time it’s happened to me, and I just needed to find another way to help this team. I just don’t want to be sitting somewhere, you know?”
It doesn’t seem like Jagr is going to have to worry about that anytime soon after busting out against his former club in Pittsburgh.