Injury ends Jagr's Classic experience in second period
With all the pressure and praise heaped on budding star Claude Giroux heading into the Winter Classic, many predicted aging wonder Jaromir Jagr, Giroux's linemate, could be a difference-maker Monday at Citizens Bank Park.
And he might well have been, though not in the way anyone could have predicted.
Late in the first period, Jagr aggravated a groin strain he sustained on Dec. 29 in the Flyers' last game before the Winter Classic, against the Penguins. He skated only two more shifts, but was a virtual nonfactor, eventually missing the final 35 minutes.
"Last game I sprained my leg, it was a little bit (of) swelling," said Jagr, who ultimately went 10 shifts totaling 7:09. "Then, late in the first period it was getting worse and worse. I tried (to come) back, but I just couldn't skate 100 percent. I just thought, I cannot help my team."
With 3:02 to go in the first, Jagr provided a rare moment of excitement in a subdued opening period when he split two Rangers defenders. After the game, Jagr pinpointed the move as the beginning of the end of his night.
"That's what I think," Jagr said. "That's where it started hurting the most."
Jagr remained on the bench after the injury, saying: "I was hoping maybe if we got a power play I could volunteer. I just wanted to be with my teammates."
Since he kept his seat on the bench, he was on hand to see a goal by Mike Rupp that turned Philadelphia's two-goal lead into a 2-1 game. In his celebration, Rupp gave the crowd a spirited salute, which Jagr has made famous. The gesture angered some fans, but Jagr was more circumspect in his judgment.
"It's fine with me -- it's not my signature. I just do it to celebrate a goal," Jagr said. "Maybe he does it too, maybe he celebrates like that -- I don't know, he doesn't score many goals.
"We're still going to be play them three more times. And I think I'm going to score and I'm going to salute him back."
Though Jagr went on record before the game about his reluctance to play outdoors, citing a bad experience in the Kontinental Hockey League, he said the setting had nothing to do with his injury or removal from the game.
"I know I said I wasn't a fan of that, but I was wrong," Jagr said. "It was a great game, and it's just too bad we couldn't do it for our fans. That's the most disappointing thing."