While there were questions about how Jaromir Jagr would fare in his return to the NHL this season, midway through December it seems that those doubts have been put to rest.
Through 24 games with the Flyers this season, Jagr has 24 points (10 goals, 14 assists) and has played an important part in establishing their scoring depth. He’s spent most of the season on a line with Scott Hartnell and the league’s leading scorer, Claude Giroux, who will not play against the Capitals because of a concussion.
Tonight will also mark Jagr’s first trip to Verizon Center since his return to North America this year. While the home crowd may focus on making Jagr feel unwelcome, the Capitals will be trying to make sure he doesn’t have a large impact on the score sheet. In the past five games, Jagr has four goals, three assists and is a plus-2.
“Just playing him last time, he is hard,” Karl Alzner said of Jagr. “He’s great at defending the puck, he’s great with his stick. He still has a little bit of the pre-lockout rules in him, you can tell with his clutching and grabbing and he gets away with it pretty good. He’s a smart player.”
Although he wasn’t in the lineup for the first meeting of the season with the Flyers because of his recovery from offseason shoulder injury, John Erskine had plenty of experience facing Jagr in previous seasons.
“He has real strong legs and he can protect the puck really good so you’ve got to use your stick. If you just go in and try to hit him you’re going to bounce off him a lot,” Erskine said. “You’ve got to play positional on him, use your stick a lot. If not, he’ll find the space.”