When Jaromir Jagr is producing goals and points at his current pace, it overshadows the output of everyone else on the Washington Capitals. And when Jagr is slumping, as he was earlier in the season, he also grabs the bulk of the negative attention, taking pressure off other struggling individuals.
Robert Lang is more accustomed than most to that phenomenon, having played with Jagr for five years in Pittsburgh before joining him in Washington this season. While Jagr was celebrating his 500th goal Tuesday night and basking in applause before last night's game with New Jersey at MCI Center, Lang was relatively anonymous despite being on a hot streak of his own.
Lang, who signed the largest free agent contract in franchise history last summer, had five goals and 15 points in his last 12 games prior to last night's game after scoring just three points over the previous 15 games. In both instances, he was overshadowed by Jagr.
"Obviously, he's the guy who is going to get the most attention, and should on any team," Lang said. "So it's kind of nice during the bad times, because he takes most of the pressure off and I don't really have to worry about it that much. On the other hand, when he's playing well it's kind of sad sometimes, but you can't just take a one-way street about it. You have to look at both sides and it's absolutely true, he's the guy who takes most of the blame, so he should be the guy to get the most credit, too."
Lang has helped reverse what had been a brutal power play and has tried to be more judicious with his shot selection.
"I think it's sort of picking your spots and when the time is right, do it," Lang said. "And then you get the confidence and that's all you need. If you score or make a couple of good plays, you feel better and calm down and it goes from there."
Jagr's 500th to Be Honored
The Capitals and the NHL will honor Jagr for his 500th goal -- accomplished in 928 games -- before Sunday's game against Montreal, presenting him with various gifts. . . . Coach Bruce Cassidy used the same lineup as he did Tuesday night, with defensemen Jean-Francois Fortin and Rick Berry and forward Ivan Ciernik scratched.