Better With Popcorn

Jagr's Return Shining Moment in Snoozefest

The majority of Tuesday night’s game between the Philadelphia Flyers and Winnipeg Jets was ugly.

After the two teams generated 27 combined goals in their first two meetings, the game had the promise of another offensive shootout.

Instead, it resulted in the other kind of shootout, one that came after 65-minutes of uninspired hockey.

With each team struggling to generate any kind of enthusiasm for the first game back from the All-Star break, fans were witnesses to a less than memorable matchup.

However, there was one player who looked more than ready to get back to action.

After re-aggravating a groin injury against the New Jersey Devils last week, Jaromir Jagr returned to the lineup for the first time in ten days.

It was evident that he was ready to get back to action.

“Well, I was glad to play,” Jagr said. “On whatever line, I was glad to play after ten days.” 

After playing every game this season with Claude Giroux on the first line, Jagr began Tuesday night’s game on the second unit with Brayden Schenn and Matt Read.

While it may have appeared to some as a demotion, nothing could have been further from the truth.

He was separated from Giroux in a calculated maneuver to ease the 39-year old back into the lineup.

“I think more so just to get [Jagr] back in the game,” Peter Laviolette said. “Maybe get him away from the checking lines and the other team’s top D.  Just to get him back on.”

Jagr agreed with the decision.

“It probably was better for me to start on a different line and probably less pressure,” he said. “I could slowly get into the game.”

The only problem is that Jagr didn’t slowly ease into the game; he came out of the gate like he hadn’t missed a beat.

With the majority of the players looking like their skates needed a sharpening, Jagr looked impressive throughout the entire contest.

"I think he looked awesome,” Scott Hartnell said. “He was carrying the puck, he was making plays, he was holding on to it like he does when he's playing really well and it was good to see him come back and not be hesitant.”

A groin injury can be a troublesome issue for a hockey player, especially for one who is turning 40 on February 15th.

As has been seen in Jagr’s case, the injury can linger and act up at anytime. In previous returns he has had trouble finding his footing.

However, that wasn’t the case on Tuesday as he looked like he had little trouble skating. He didn’t necessarily make any power moves, but he did engage in several one-on-one battles, the majority of which he won.

By the third period, Laviolette moved him back onto the first unit with Hartnell and Giroux who looked like they lacked focus. That changed once they had Jagr back.

In fact, it was his line (no matter which line it was) that looked the strongest throughout the game.

He even recorded an assist on the Flyers only goal of the night.

“I feel good,” Jagr said. “I was a little bit tired during the third period. I was playing a lot for a guy who didn’t play for a long time. Every other shift I was on the ice for the last ten minutes.”

While there is still a concern about Jagr’s durability, the team is happy to have him back.

“I know the last couple of times he's come back he was worried about how it was going to be,” Hartnell said. “I think he felt one hundred percent going into the game and that's what we need from him."


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