Jagr feels for the plight of Crosby, Malkin

Jagr feels for the plight of Crosby, Malkin
June 8, 2013, 1:45 pm
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BOSTON – Jaromir Jagr has been exactly where Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are right now after coming up with nothing but zeroes in a critical playoff series for their team. He knows what it’s like to have a team’s entire defense geared around stopping him, and experienced that many times over when he was a teen-ager dominating the NHL with loaded Pittsburgh Penguins teams more than 20 years ago.

So he wasn’t taking any glee from the struggles of Crosby or Malkin once the Bruins had completed their 1-0 win in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals, and had swept both superstars and their Pittsburgh hockey club right out of the playoffs. Crosby, Malkin, Kris Letang, Jarome Iginla and James Neal finished with zero points and a minus-22

Instead there was full empathy from a 41-year-old future Hall of Famer, who has seen it all over the course of his 23 years of pro hockey.

“Good defense means that you play the zone, and you play as a five man unit. So if somebody makes a mistake and you don’t play the tight defense, it’s a lot easier for somebody to score because there’s nobody even close,” said Jagr. “But with the type of defense we play if somebody makes a mistake or loses an edge, there’s somebody else close by to stop them. You have to beat five guys and not one guy. That’s why I think it was tougher for Malkin and Crosby because it was a five guy unit.

“They are great players. There is no question about it. It’s not easy when [you’re them] and everybody is waiting for you to do something. It’s like in basketball when you have a good guy, and you double team them. You let somebody else beat you. If you’re going to play against Lebron James you’re going to put two guys on him, and let somebody else beat you. Let the Bird Man (Chris Anderson) beat you. He’s pretty good, but that’s the way it is.”

Who knew that “The Jagr” was such an NBA fan?

Instead Jagr has persevered through his own struggles he’s dealing with while looking for that first goal of the playoffs after 16 games. His 45 shots on net are among the most on the Black and Gold’s roster, and he’s had some glorious chances dashed by the goaltender. But Jagr has also seemingly turned the corner in the last couple of games after racking up a pair of assists in Game 2, and then beating Evgeni Malkin in a one-on-one battle at center ice to set up Patrice Bergeron’s game-winning, double-OT strike in Game 3.

The future Hall of Famer has bright hopes for the next couple of weeks when they get things started in the Cup Finals against either the Los Angeles Kings or the Chicago Blackhawks.

It will be Jagr’s first trip back to the Cup Finals since 1992, the same year that winger Tyler Seguin has born. So needless to say it’s been a while, and Jagr is looking forward to busting through with a goal.

“I just wish I could help this team a little more offensively, but a higher power is against that. So it’s tough to fight a god,” said Jagr. “Maybe something great is going to happen is going to happen in the Finals. I’m just doing the best I can do: playing defense and playing good along the boards. I’m trying my best.

“Sometimes it doesn’t go that way, but it would be an easy way if everybody got everything in life that they wanted. You’ve got to fight through the tough times.”

With Jagr finding his stride offensively, buying into the Bruins system and heading back to the Stanley Cup Finals for what might be the last time of his brilliant, storied career, there is little doubt the hockey gods will be fighting with him rather than against him once the next round begins.