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Insider Only Morning Pens Buzz: On Jagr’s big night; Flyers team speed was the difference in win; Post-Game tidbits, Analysis

Morning Pens Buzz

Jagr stars On and Off the Ice in Win: The Philadelphia Flyers could not have scripted last night’s 4-2 win any better. Flyers players and coaches knew this game meant a ton to Jaromir Jagr and Jagr delivered.
“I’m sure [Jaromir] was happy to come in and be a factor the way he was,” Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said afterwards…. “Max had a great game too, so for both of them to contribute that way was {really] nice to see, ” Laviolette added as Talbot played a strong defensive and sealed the win with an empty net goal.
The story of the game though was Jagr. All eyes were on him and he didn’t shy away from the spotlight during his two days in Pittsburgh. On the ice, Jagr was among the best players on the ice and the Flyers top line of Jagr, Claude Giroux and Scott Hartnell dominated at times in the puck possession game and were a scoring threat all game.
Giroux and Jagr combined for a goal and two assists and Jagr’s beautiful backhand goal at 6:03 of the second period follwed by a salute to a woman in the crowd. “She didn’t like it much, ” Jagr joked after the game. As for his play… “I felt pretty good, I had so many chances, ” Jagr said. I could have scored five goals, but I just couldn’t score. Fifteen years ago I would score five….. But not anymore.”
“I think it was important not just for him but for the whole team that he got that goal, ” star center Claude Giroux said on Jagr’s goal.”
One thing that became clear to fans who haven’t seen Jagr live in years is that he remains a top-6 winger. Since 2008, Jagr hasn’t lost much of anything. In fact, scouts believe he is quicker than he was in 2008 as Jagr is not as heavy and bulky. The only aspect of his game that still isn’t there is the velocity of his shot but his shot is still good enough as evident last night.
While Jagr was excellent offensively, he made it clear after the game that he wanted people to recognize his defensive play on James Neal where Neal had two cracks on a puck near the crease in what was a wide open net and on the second opportunity for Neal to tap the puck in, Jagr lifted Neal’s stick to negate the goal. “Everybody!!! “Selke right here, ” Jagr blurted out after the game. “If somebody says I don’t backcheck, show them that clip. I think that was the best play of my career.”
Philadelphia’s team speed was the difference: Philadelphia overcame Pittsburgh scoring 44 seconds into the game on Jordan Staal’s 15th goal of the season and a big reason they quickly titled momentum after Pittsburgh’s early tally was because of the Penguins undisciplined play, but a pivotal reason for the Flyers taking over the game was their team speed.
Philadelphia was the faster, more explosive team, especially in the transition game. They consistently backed the Penguins up who were too worried about getting beat wide. The Penguins made some adjustments in the third period and were lucky that Philadelphia didn’t have a 4 or 5-1 lead after two periods instead of just a 3-1 lead.

The Jagr goal was a prime example as he backed Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen up and Pittsburgh gave the likes of Jagr just too much respect when he was coming down through the neutral zone. Philadelphia was able to gain speed through the neutral zone with the puck all game.
Special Teams Disappointment: As well as the Flyers played, Pittsburgh still hung around and were a power play goal away from forcing overtime. The Penguins went 0-3 on the power play and failed to capitalize on a Flyers “too many men” penalty with under five minutes to play. However, it was the Penguins lack of discipline early on that surely had to frustrate the Penguins coaching staff who were stressing all day that the Penguins had to stay out of the box. Three first period penalties killed the Penguins tempo following the Staal goal.

Tidbits

— As the midpoint of the season nears, Claude Giroux would get my MVP vote. He’s easily replaced Mike Richards and Jeff Carter and he’s one of the top-5 players in the game who’s rare in the standpoint that he plays in all situations. Giroux is relied on as one of the Flyers best penalty killers and was second among forwards with 2:45 of ice time.
— Pittsburgh got another big game from Jordan Staal and Tyler Kennedy who extended his points streak to a career high five games with a goal and an assist. Kennedy is starting to play at the level he was in the second half of last season and Staal was a force on the ice, scoring his 15th goal of the season and winning 13 of 18 draws (72.2%).
— The Penguins top line of Chris Kunitz – Evgeni Malkin and James Neal were outplayed by the Flyers top line of Hartnell – Giroux and Jagr. Neal had an off game as his legs weren’t there and the puck was bouncing off his stick all game. He was due for one. Kunitz, Malkin and Neal were a combined minus-5 in the loss. Malkin though extended his points streak to nine games, assisting on Kennedy’s third period goal.
Matt Niskanen was a minus-3 in the loss. The one downfall with Niskanen continues to be his struggles to clear the front of the net and he was beat bad by Matt Read in front on Read’s 12th of the season at 16:11 of the second period.
— Rookie defenseman Simon Despres had an assist and was a +2 in the loss…
— Ben Lovejoy logged over 20 minutes of ice time and said the Penguins gave Philadelphia too much space.”You don’t want to let them have time and space, but we allowed them to come through the neutral zone pretty easily. We didn’t have a great gap.”
— The Flyers are 4-0 all-time at Consol. “We’ve been successful in this building,” Giroux said. “I think we’re starting to like playing here.”
— The Penguins, as expected, had a scoreboard tribute to Max Talbot in the first period. Talbot had a goal, his 10th of the season and had 13:32 of ice time, including a team-high 4:02 shorthanded. “It meant a lot,” Talbot said about the Penguins tribute towards him. “The Penguins organization is just really classy and I obviously want to thank them for that.”. Jagr after the game gave Talbot a compliment saying that “Pittsburgh’s biggest mistake was not resigning Talbot”…..I’m not sure about that….

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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