Jaromir Jagr wasted no time stepping in to lend a hand to the Boston Bruins.
Or should we say, lend a skate?
Clearly the Bruins needed the help, particularly offensively as Boston’s anemic attack has scored just 20 goals in the past nine games – five of those in their shootout loss to Montreal last week – and has one of the worst power plays in the league…
…but the 12 time All Star and former Hart Trophy winner thinks the Bruins’ scoring woes are being blown out of proportion:
“I don’t think this team really needs it.” Jagr said at this morning’s game-day skate, meaning his offense “They won the Cup two years ago and when you look at the top guys, they’re still here. So they know they can do it. And for me, personally, I wish I can somehow help the team to produce better.”
“The game has changed, so I changed.”
So 1:20 into the second period of his first game as a Bruin, Jagr lit the lamp, a tip in off linemate Brad Marchand’s feed right on his skate – yes, let the record show that Jagr’s first goal for the Boston Bruins was a clanker off his left skate…
…and Goalie Tukkaa Rask made it hold up, stopping 40 shots in a sensational effort in net as the Bruins took a rousing 1-0 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night at TD Center in downtown Boston.
And that’s it.
And other than the assorted memorabilia and mullet wigs worn by Jagr fans in the crowd, and that he scored the only goal of the game, you’d hardly even know he was in town.
But once the euphoria of a third straight win and Jagr’s clanker wears off, the Bruins still have the same problems that they came into Thursday night’s contest with: Scoring and clearing the puck out of the defensive zone.
Coach Claude Julien was looking for a more consistent defensive effort from his charges than he got in Boston’s horrid display on Tuesday night in a 3-2 win over the Ottawa Senators in which the defense allowed an astounding 47 shots on goal…
…and he got it, but not by much and not even close to being up to his standards.
The offensive issues are stemming more from their inability to clear the defensive zone, the halting nature of which doesn’t allow the offense to move with any momentum and leads to choppy play in the attacking zone. Once the defense figures out it’s issues, the offense will come – especially now with Jagr adding a serious threat to net one every time he shoots.
With team captain Patrice Bergeron sidelined with a “mild” concussion, Jagr teamed on the second line with Marchand on the right wing and Tyler Seguin filling in at center – the smooth skating of Seguin and the intensity of Marchand a nice compliment to Jagr’s improvisational skills.
The win raises Boston’s record to 24-8-4 and their 52 points are one shy of Northeast Division leading Montreal Canadiens, whom the Bruins get on Saturday night with a chance to get a big monkey off their backs and take over the second seed in the Eastern Conference at the same time by beating the Habs in Montreal.
Boston has blown late leads in their past two contests with Montreal, losing both in gut-wrenching fashion, but a win in Montreal would go a long ways to exorcising those demons.
The Bruins point total also trails the Pittsburgh Penguins by 4 points for the top spot in the conference, and the Bruins have a huge scheduling advantage in that they play only 5 of their final 13 games on the road, a stretch that includes a four game mid-April homestand, including a visit from those same Penguins on the 19th.
So the Jagr era in Boston begins with an “excuse me” goal off of his skate. Perhaps Boston just scored the help they needed to put them over the top in the Eastern Conference – no matter what the new guy says…