NY Hockey Report: The Star of the Show
By Joe McDonald
NEW YORK - The way he is scoring, it may appear Jaromir Jagr is in on every goal the Rangers score.
“No he is,” quipped Coach Tom Renney, who was just half kidding..
Actually, the Rangers’ star has been as advertised. Not since Mark Messier in 1991 has a player lifted the Blueshirts on his back. But Jagr has, since is in a city that he wants to be and taking advantage of the new NHL rules.
After Jagr was traded from Pittsburgh to the Washington Capitals, he never seemed comfortable. It could have been because Caps owner Ted Leonsis wanted the All-Star, but general manager George McPhee wasn’t as keen. Or it could be he wanted to go to New York to begin with.
“It wasn’t easy so far, since we have played so many games, but now we will have more days off,” Jagr said. “But the city never sleeps and I can go to dinner after the game and do a lot of things after games.”
Either way, Jagr is scoring at will. In the Rangers 26 games this season, the Czech native is second in the league to Philadelphia’s Simon Gagne with 21 goals and has taken a lead leading 129 shots. He has a clearer view to the net, since the wing is no longer interfered with due to the new rules.
“I have a good chance and when I am going to shoot, I am going to shoot,” Jagr said. “That’s fine with me.”
The right wing also is rubbing off on some of his teammates. Since Martin Rucinsky went down with a knee injury, Renney has moved up Petr Prucha to Jagr’s line with Michael Nylander after the rookie came back from Hartford on November 3. It seemed to have energized the rookie and overall has three goals and nine assists in 19 games.
Jagr said Prucha is giving him some good chances, because of his talent.
“It’s been a really good chance for me,” Prucha said. “He has a really good shot. I am just trying to play as hard as I can and help him in the corners.”
Jagr seems to be pleased with the way the season is going and credits Renney for putting organization into this team.
“He done a great job, no question about it,” Jagr said. “He’s the reason why we are playing so well.”
But it still comes down to the player, who may be going through his best stretch in his career.
“I am enjoy hockey the most right now in my career,” Jagr said. “And it’s because of the organization and the players on the team. We work hard, but we have a lot of fun in practices. It shows during the game.”
No matter how many goals he scores, he knows it still will be an uphill climb for the Rangers.
“We have the toughest schedule in the NHL and sometimes you win easily and sometimes it’s fight for it,” Jagr explained. “Even if you don’t feel good you need to find a way to win and we will find a way.”