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Jagr steps up at opportune time for Bruins

by Arpon Basu /

PITTSBURGHJaromir Jagr broke his radio silence with the media for the first time since the Eastern Conference Final between his Boston Bruins and the Pittsburgh Penguins began.

His play Monday night left him little choice.

The veteran Bruins right wing had two assists in Boston's 6-1 win in Game 2 and looked a lot like the younger version of himself who brought so many of the fans in Pittsburgh out of their seats for his many years of dominance with the Penguins.

On this occasion, Jagr's play had the opposite effect on the Penguins' fans.

The two assists snapped a stretch of six games without a point for Jagr, but someone who now has 195 points in 194 career games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs doesn't exactly lose any sleep over a little slump like that.

"I stopped counting a long time ago," Jagr said, sporting the military-style jacket the Bruins hand out to their player of the game. "I've said it before, I'd rather not be scoring and still playing than scoring and already being on vacation. It's a team game and sometimes you try everything and it just doesn't go in. It's not the first time it's happened to me. Maybe not that long, but it's happened. That's why you have to find another way to help the team."

Jagr and linemates Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron had an outstanding game Monday, combining for three goals and three assists. Jagr's biggest play may have been taking a hit along the boards to spring Marchand for his second goal of the first period, one that came with 8.1 seconds to play and came just 25 seconds after Brandon Sutter had scored to make it 3-1.

Both Marchand and Bergeron were a little bit awestruck by just how well their 41-year-old partner played.

"He really was on his game," Bergeron said. "I tried to get open and he was finding me and [Marchand] and made a huge play on that goal, actually late in that first, on the wall, and it goes a long ways. It's a little detail, but it goes a long way and I thought he was awesome for us tonight."

Jagr had skipped the morning skate Monday, as he does quite regularly, but this time it fueled some speculation that perhaps coach Claude Julien would scratch him for Game 2. Jagr did his best to make that speculation appear pretty ridiculous.

"The passes he made and even that hit in front of our bench that turned the puck over and allowed Marchand to score a goal," Julien said of Jagr. "He's come in to play for us and he's played well."

Jagr has also clearly taken on the Bruins persona, using his big body to play a physical game Monday.

"That's the way the Boston Bruins play," Jagr said. "We have a lot of big guys on the team who can play physical, who can cycle the puck and be strong on the boards. I don't mind that at all, it was always my game. Even though I scored more goals, I don't mind playing on the boards. I like to play physical, I don't got to hit anybody, but I don't mind getting hit."

By reaching the conference final, the Bruins will be giving up their first-round pick in the upcoming NHL Draft to the Dallas Stars as a condition of the trade that sent Jagr to Boston.

At this point, it's a price the Bruins are likely more than happy to pay.

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