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Thursday, April 4, 2013
Jaromir Jagr gets foot in door

By Joe McDonald
ESPNBoston.com

BOSTON -- New Jersey Devils coach Peter DeBoer described the Boston Bruins' lone goal Thursday night as a bad bounce. The goal scorer, newly acquired forward Jaromir Jagr, called it a lucky one.

In his first game with the Bruins since being traded from Dallas to Boston earlier in the week, Jagr inadvertently redirected a centering pass from linemate Brad Marchand off his skate and past Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur at 1:20 of the second period to help the Bruins to a 1-0 victory at TD Garden.
Jaromir Jagr
Although he said he was tired, Jaromir Jagr was impressed by the energy from the Boston crowd.

The stress of being traded, the lack of sleep (only two hours of shut-eye Wednesday night) and the emotion of playing in Boston all affected Jagr's game. It was evident -- at times, he was gliding around the ice -- but he still logged a total of 19:12 of ice time. He also was on the ice for all of the Bruins' lone power play of the night.

After the game, the 41-year-old future Hall of Famer was dripping with sweat and still out of breath.

"It was tough," he said of his Bruins debut. "I was tired. I was so tired. But I'm happy we won the game, but it was tough on me. I was very tired."

The Bruins were off on Wednesday, so Thursday's 30-minute morning skate was Jagr's only preparation with his new team.

"He was good," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "He did a great job for a guy who just arrived yesterday. He didn't really practice with us much.

"He played his game and his goal was something we like to see, and it's called net drive. It didn't have to be a highlight goal, but he was heading to the net, and he wasn't going to get pushed to the side. It went off his skate and in, so that's a good example for the rest of the younger guys on the team to take from a guy who's still doing that at his age."

Jagr's goal was the 18th of his career in 68 games against Brodeur, a 40-year-old himself.

"Sometimes you have to be lucky to score, and I think that's the first time I've scored with my leg," Jagr said. "When I was 25, I wouldn't have liked that goal, but at 41 I'd take anything right now."

The one thing missing from his goal was his traditional celebration of a salute. When asked about it, he said he would break it out during the playoffs.

"If I score a good goal and not with my leg," he said with a laugh.

Without Patrice Bergeron in the lineup due to a concussion he suffered on Tuesday, the same day the Bruins acquired Jagr, Julien decided to tweak his second line. He moved Seguin from the wing to center, and had Jagr on the right side with Marchand on the left. That line produced the lone goal.

"It brought us what we thought," Julien said. "Tyler is obviously realizing probably how tough it is for Bergy to play that position because in the D-zone there's a lot of territory to cover as a centerman. When pucks were going from one side to the other, [Seguin] wasn't always there and that's a work in progress. That's what we expected and that's what he's going to get used to, but overall that line was fine."

Even though both Seguin and Marchand have been in the league for a few years and have won a Stanley Cup, it can't be easy when suddenly they're playing on a line with a surefire Hall of Famer. At times it was as though the junior members of the line were trying too hard to get Jagr the puck rather than playing their game, which has been so successful this season.

The second line of Marchand, Bergeron and Seguin has been the Bruins' most consistent all season, so without the assistant captain in the lineup, Marchand admitted it was a bit of adjustment.

"It was different," Marchand said. "Obviously, me, Bergy and Segs have played together for a while, but [Jagr is] one of those players that's easy to play with. We talked a lot during the game and throughout the periods and tried to figure each other out a bit. As the game went on, we were a little more comfortable."

The communication aspect is important. Jagr told his linemates not to be nervous and to just play their game. The trio discussed where to be on breakouts, forechecks and regroups in order to all be on the same page while on the ice.

"He was making us aware of how he plays and making sure we can all adapt to that," Marchand said.

A sluggish Jagr admitted to his linemates that he needs to be, and will be, better once he's able to regroup after an emotional couple of days.

"I felt bad for them they had to play with me," Jagr said. "I have to get better, that's for sure."

When he first stepped onto the ice for the pregame warm-ups, then again for his first shift in a Bruins sweater, Jagr received a standing ovation from the Garden faithful. After he scored his goal, chants of "Jagr, Jagr, Jagr" came from the 17,565 in attendance.

"I really appreciate it," he said after the game. "I didn't know that the fans loved their hockey so much here in Boston. It's a little bit different than playing in Dallas, that's for sure. I don't want to say anything about Dallas because they were great, but this is a different level."

The Bruins are fighting for the top spot in the Northeast Division with the Montreal Canadiens, and trail the Habs by one point. The teams will play Saturday at the Bell Centre in Montreal, and this time Jagr's hoping to be better than just lucky.