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X-Factor: Addition of Jagr could be game-changer

by Shawn P. Roarke /

Although Jaromir Jagr wasn't the Boston Bruins' first choice at the NHL Trade Deadline -- anyone remember Jarome Iginla before he opted for Pittsburgh? -- he may have been the best choice general manager Peter Chiarelli could have made with his team's season hanging in the balance.

Determined to find some scoring for his at times anemic offense, Chiarelli traded a conditional draft pick and a pair of middling prospects for Jagr, who is No. 10 on the NHL's list of all-time scorers.

Jagr, 41, provides Boston with everything it needed to be better, and he cost nothing from its current roster. He is a bona fide top-six forward who likely will play a third-line role and, in the process, even out the Bruins forward groupings. He is a natural scorer on a team that often has trouble scoring. And he is a power-play specialist on a team that has had an anemic man-advantage attack all season.

"That's what you're going to need going into the playoffs, to be able to have all lines score goals," Jagr said. "That way other teams can't just shut down one line, there are other lines that can score goals, and I think that's pretty important to have that going into the playoffs."

Although still tinkering with lines in the final week of the season, it appears coach Claude Julien has found the recipe he believes will best serve the club. It has Jagr on the third line with speedy Chris Kelly and newcomer Carl Soderberg.

That allows David Krejci to reinherit his top-line wingers while the ultra-effective line of Patrice Bergeron centering Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin remains intact. It also allows Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille to return to fourth-line duty, where their combination of size and speed is a perfect complement for mainstay Shawn Thornton.

That lineup, in so many ways, is very similar to the one that marched through the 2011 postseason. Have they recaptured that magic with the late-season additions of Jagr and Soderberg, who was considered one of the best players in Sweden?

"We're getting close to it," Julien said, not necessarily admitting the magic is back, but that he at least has a vision how the Bruins will look come May. "I think there's something to be said about that. You want to get, I guess, some sort of a feeling of what you want to do, but we're almost healthy, so it's getting close to that."

With all that said, Jagr will have to deliver in the postseason for the move to completely pay off.

Yes, the Czech veteran was great for Boston down the stretch as the Bruins battled the Montreal Canadiens for first place in the Northeast Division throughout April.

Now he has to show he is the physical force of nature he believes himself to be and raise his game as the temperature climbs. Jagr has not played more than 10 Stanley Cup Playoff games since his last season with Pittsburgh, which was a dozen years ago.

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