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.
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):
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.”
Florida has added the goalscoring winger it wanted for a playoff push.
Thomas Vanek, who leads the Red Wings with 15 goals this season, has been acquired in exchange for defenseman Dylan McIlrath and a third-round pick, per TSN.
Vanek, 33, is on a one-year, $2.6 million deal. Detroit’s retaining 50 percent of his salary in this trade, so it’s an affordable pickup for the Panthers.
The Austrian winger should fit nicely into an offensively gifted group that includes Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, Jaromir Jagr, Vincent Trocheck, Reilly Smith and Jussi Jokinen. Vanek should also help out on the power play, where he has five markers this season.
“Thomas is a proven scorer in this league who will add some offensive savvy and experience to our young group of forwards,” Panthers GM Dale Tallon said in a release. “We believe strongly in our group and we’re confident that he will help our power play and supplement our core effectively.”
As for the other side of things…
The Red Wings, who will see their 25-year playoff streak snapped, began selling off assets yesterday by flipping Brendan Smith to the Rangers, and Steve Ott to the Habs.
Early analysis has panned GM Ken Holland for his sub-par return for Vanek who — while somewhat flawed — has enjoyed a bounce-back season in Detroit, and has a history for finding the back of the net.
You know, it would make an awful lot of sense if a bye week would be especially kind to a guy like Jaromir Jagr.
Whatever the case may be, he’s been riding the wave of playing with talented teammates Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov, but you can’t say he was just a passenger on the 760th goal of his distinguished career.
To little surprise, it marks another milestone for the legendary Florida Panthers winger; he became just the third player in NHL history to score a goal at age 45 or older. He felt at least a little like a goal he would score at age 25, as you can see in the video above.
Maybe this is reaching a bit, but another interesting gray-haired accomplishment is in reach, too:
Strangely fitting on a night in which Mikko Rantanen, a player who was born in Jagr’s prime in 1996, scored his first career overtime goal for Colorado.
Update: The Panthers ended up beating the Ducks 4-1. Oh, and Jagr added another very specific bit of history.