Jaromir Jagr

Pre-game reading: Go to Olympics ‘at your own peril’

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— Up top, at least Grapes is happy with the NHL’s Olympics decision.

Alex Ovechkin says he’s going to South Korea in 2018, and he’s going “no matter what.” But a Toronto sports lawyer has a warning for any player thinking similarly: “Do so at your own peril. You are going to be putting yourself in breach of the contract you have signed with your team, which has been collectively bargained. You are putting yourself at the risk of being suspended, terminated, liable for damages to your club for the games that you miss.” (CBC Sports)

— NHLPA chief Donald Fehr has been criticized for not collectively bargaining Olympic participation for the players. So, what does he have to say about that? Fehr: “If the notion is that players will just say, ‘Oh well. This is too bad that the CBA didn’t provide for it,’ or ‘We wish it were different,’ and we can just go on with life as usual or as if this hadn’t happened – I think that’s a very, very, very unlikely possibility.” Translation: The next negotiations between the players and league should be interesting. (FanRag)

— Elliotte Friedman’s latest “30 Thoughts” includes a vote of confidence for Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill from GM Ken Holland: “[Blashill] went to the USHL and won a championship. He went to an NCAA program (Western Michigan) and revived it. He won the Calder Cup in the AHL, and other teams were starting to take notice. His resume indicates he will be successful.” (Sportsnet)

Jaromir Jagr drops some life wisdom in a Q&A with Pierre LeBrun: “Everybody in the world has ups and downs in their lives. It’s probably 50-50. It’s what they call yin and yang. You have 50 great days and 50 bad days. The only thing you can control is how you look at it. You know you’re going to have bad days, but if you look at them in a positive way, it helps. Same with the great players. They’ll have bad games, but they know how to make something positive out of bad days.” (ESPN)

— What should the Flyers do with Steve Mason? A good question. The 28-year-old is a pending unrestricted free agent, and he hasn’t had the greatest season. (CSN Philly)

Enjoy the games!

Crosby captivated during a great night for the Penguins

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Earlier this season, Sidney Crosby was scoring on an unsustainable percentage of his shots … yet many wondered: “This is Sidney Crosby, is it possible that he could just keep doing this?”

Well, the bounces have slowed a touch – he came into Friday with a 17.1 shooting percentage – but he justified such doubts by absurdly scoring a goal off of Henrik Lundqvist‘s head.

… And he did it on purpose.

That goal came after Crosby began the night’s scoring with an assist on a Jake Guentzel goal, which placed him second all-time in Penguins history in assists, ahead of Jaromir Jagr.

One has to feel a bit for Lundqvist, both for being the victim of that bit of Crosby genius and for the notion that his flurry of first-period saves has likely been made irrelevant.

Crosby has scored 22 goals against Lundqvist, easily the most he’s generated vs. any goalie.

Update: The Penguins nabbed a 4-3 shootout win thanks a (wait for it) shootout-winner by Crosby.

Matt Murray made a fantastic stop in overtime, too:

Furthermore, Friday was very friendly to the Penguins, as both the Blue Jackets and Capitals lost in regulation.

The Penguins are unlikely to catch the Capitals in such a small period of time, but a round of home-ice advantage became far more plausible after this night:

1. Capitals – 110 points in 77 games
2. Blue Jackets – 106 points in 77 games
3. Penguins – 105 points in 77 games

Pittsburgh’s next two games are interesting, as they host the desperate and red-hot Hurricanes on Sunday and the Blue Jackets on Tuesday. Both of those games are at home, and then they close out 2016-17 with three consecutive contests on the road.

Jagr sets another record — most points by an NHLer after turning 40

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Jaromir Jagr set another record on Friday, and his Florida Panthers earned a comeback victory that keeps their slim playoff hopes alive.

Jagr recorded a pair of assists against the New York Rangers, giving him 39 points in 70 games, which is a remarkable total given he is, you know, 45 years old. Per Elias Sports, he now has 269 points since he turned 40, which breaks the previous record held by Mr. Hockey, Gordie Howe.

Howe played professionally into his 50s — until he was 52 to be exact.

Jagr still has a ways to go if he wants to achieve that same incredible feat, but he has expressed a desire to do just that. In fact, he has expressed a desire to play well beyond the youthful age of 50.

“The only way you get tired with hockey is when you don’t work hard enough and you play the game and you kind of embarrass yourself,” Jagr told Sportsnet last year. “You’re embarrassed because the other guys are better than you, but that’s because you didn’t do enough to prepare for yourself for it.”

The Panthers trailed the Rangers 2-0 before Friday’s game was even five minutes old. But they came back in the second period, before Aleksander Barkov scored in the third period and again in the shootout to give Florida a critical victory.

With 12 games left on their schedule, the Panthers are five points back of Toronto for the final wild card spot in the East.

Lundqvist now alone at 10th all-time in wins with 404

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Even while facing unusual struggles, Henrik Lundqvist continues to hit milestones and climb up the NHL’s record books.

In the case of Tuesday, the New York Rangers’ 5-2 win against the Florida Panthers gave Lundqvist the 404th win of his distinguished career. In doing so, Lundqvist broke his tie with Grant Fuhr for 10th all-time in goalie victories.

There’s a chance he can rise up another spot in 2016-17, too:

1. Martin Brodeur – 691 wins
2. Patrick Roy – 551
3. Ed Belfour – 484
4. Curtis Joseph – 454
5. Roberto Luongo – 453
6. Terry Sawchuk – 447
7. Jacques Plante – 437
8. Tony Esposito – 423
9. Glenn Hall – 407
10. Lundqvist – 404

Doing this against the Panthers seems like a nice touch, as Roberto Luongo and Jaromir Jagr have been putting together impressive marks/records of their own at times this season.

If 404 wins is a little too “vanilla” for you, Lundqvist also did something else impressive if more obscure:

Ah, those specific stats are the best, aren’t they?

The Rangers also give themselves an outside chance to crawl into the second or third spot in the Metro, though the Penguins and Blue Jackets hold some significant advantages at the moment:

2. Blue Jackets – 90 points in 65 games (beat the Devils)
3. Penguins – 88 points in 64 games (inactive)

First wild card: Rangers – 88 points in 67 games

And, as Jeremy Roenick and Brian Boucher discussed on Monday, there are actually some positives if the Rangers finish in that first wild card spot (especially if it means that Lundqvist can rest and regain confidence):

Iginla excited and grateful for opportunity with Kings

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At 39 years old, Jarome Iginla is thankful for what could be one last shot at winning a Stanley Cup.

Iginla was traded by the Colorado Avalanche today. With 619 career goals but no championship ring, he’s excited to join the Los Angeles Kings — even though his new team is currently just outside the playoff picture.

“The Kings are such a hard team to play against,” Iginla told TSN. “They get into the playoffs and they’re such a determined, competitive group that they excel. … I really appreciate the opportunity to be in meaningful, competitive games.”

It remains to be seen where Iginla will play in the Kings’ lineup. It’s possible it could be with Anze Kopitar, who could certainly use a scorer on his wing.

That being said, Iginla’s production this season — just eight goals in 61 games — leaves doubts about his ability to become the top-six winger the Kings so desperately need.

“I believe I can still produce,” said Iginla. “I hope to go there and help out, but also be a pleasant surprise. I know there’s questions and stuff about whether I can or not. I believe I can.”

A pending unrestricted free agent, Iginla couldn’t say whether retirement was looming. At the moment, he said it’s “probably 50-50” that this would be his last year. Among NHL forwards, only Jaromir Jagr, Shane Doan and Matt Cullen are older.

“It’s honestly just get ready for now and this playoff push,” said Iginla. “Hopefully a long playoff run and a championship. That’s where the focus is. I honestly don’t know what the future holds after that.”