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Stanley Cup Final

Can Flyers' Jagr be this productive all season?

Friday, 10.07.2011 / 9:11 AM / E.J. Hradek's Analysis

By EJ Hradek - NHL.com Analyst

Well, we're one day into the regular season, and as we expected, Penguins "sniper" Matt Cooke has taken the early lead in the chase for the Rocket Richard Trophy, scoring a pair of goals in a 4-3 shootout win in Vancouver. That's good for Cooke, who's said he's turning over a new leaf. Maybe that leaf includes 20 or 25 goals. I have to say I'm still a bit skeptical.

Here's an opening day edition of the "Friday Flash."

FLASH: Jaromir Jagr hits the 1,600-point plateau
After a three-season NHL hiatus, Flyers right Jaromir Jagr became just the ninth player in NHL history to reach 1.600 points, assisting on Claude Giroux's first-period highlight-reel goal in a 2-1 win over the Cup banner-raising Bruins. He's now 41 points behind Joe Sakic on the League's all-time point-scoring list.

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Of course, Jagr might be challenging to become just the second player in League history to crack the 2,000-point mark had he not spent the last three seasons in the KHL and lost an entire season to the lockout that cancelled the 2004-05 season. As it stands now, Jagr would have to play at least one more season after this -- and be productive -- if he wants to catch his former teammate Mario Lemieux, who is seventh with 1,723 points.

While it's hard to know how the 39-year-old Jagr will hold up over the course of an 82-game season, he looks like a nice fit alongside kid linemates Giroux and James van Riemsdyk. This trio could be real fun to watch.

FLASH: In a minor, but noticeable change, players now sport their numbers on the front of their helmets.
I don't know who thought of it, but I think it's a good idea. I think it's a good way to better identify the players on TV. It doesn't hurt for fans to be able to associate a face, a number and a name. In my opinion, this is one of those changes that doesn't have any downside. So, to whom it may concern, nice job!

FLASH: Matthew Lombardi nets game-winner in his return to action.
Last season, for the second time in his career, Lombardi suffered a concussion that sidelined him for a long stretch and threatened his career. On Thursday, in his first game in a Toronto uniform, Lombardi tapped home a shorthanded chance to help his new team to a 2-0 victory against the rival Canadiens.

If Lombardi can stay on the ice, he could prove to be a very valuable pick-up for the Leafs, who could use his speed and penalty-killing ability.

Earlier in his career, as a member of the Coyotes, Lombardi made quite an impression on coach Wayne Gretzky. The Great One felt Lombardi was an underappreciated talent. In Toronto, Lombardi definitely won't be overlooked.

FLASH: The Bruins raise their championship banner.
It was a big night in Boston, but one veteran Flyer felt the Bruins might have overdone the celebration when each returning member of the title team (plus the retired Mark Recchi and Shane Hnidy) paraded the Cup around the TD Garden ice.

"Bad karma, don't you think?" he asked. I guess time will tell.

In the future, Cup-winning teams might consider having one last public Cup celebration before their home opener, saving a more simple banner-raising ceremony for that first home game. It's just a thought.

Somehow, I get a feeling that idea isn't going to gain too much steam among the teams or fans.


FLASH: Who was the biggest winner on opening night?
The correct answer is Philadelphia goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, who turned back 22 of 23 shots in a successful Flyers debut.

Let's face it -- Bryzgalov carries the weight of some heavy expectations into the new season. It won't take too many shaky performances before the Philly fanatics start asking questions. For at least one day, the Flyers didn't have a goaltending issue. That's a real good way to start.

It means a lot to us, we're very excited. We're looking to continue to build on [our] top core talent of young players. It's just a great opportunity for us to really build high.

— Panthers vice president of hockey operations Travis Viola after Florida won the No. 1 pick in the NHL Draft Lottery