Jaromir Jagr

PHT Morning Skate: Henrik Sedin gives 700th assist puck to fan with Make-A-Wish

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Henrik Sedin gave his 700th assist milestone puck to Alex, who spent a day with the Vancouver Canucks with the help of Make-A-Wish:

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By helping the Florida Panthers beat the Boston Bruins on Thursday, Jaromir Jagr thinks he’s given Pittsburgh Penguins fans a reason to like him again. (Steve Goldstein)

Travis Zajac sees the criticism he’s been on the receiving end of as something that “comes with that territory.” Zajac, who agreed to a eight-year, $46 million deal in 2013, has 24 points in 73 games this season. (The Bergen Record)

Here are the highlights from St. Louis’ 2-1 win over Chicago:

Here are five things the Detroit Red Wings had working for them in their successful quest to clinch the playoffs for a 24th straight campaign. (NHL.com)

If the Ottawa Senators make the playoffs, then there will be five Canadian teams in the first round. That’s not a scenario many people would have predicted going into the 2014-15 campaign. (Toronto Sun)

Meanwhile the Edmonton Oilers are wrapping up a campaign that fans might wish they could forget. (Edmonton Journal)

Big, bad blunder: Bruins fall against Panthers

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The good news for the Boston Bruins is that their awful Thursday doesn’t knock them out of the playoffs altogether. The bad news is … just about everything else that happened tonight.

As you may already know, the Ottawa Senators held up their end of the bargain with a 3-0 win against the New York Rangers. That allowed Ottawa to bump Boston out of the East’s wild card ranks, but the Bruins could have made that a temporary thing. The B’s failed in that quest, however, falling to the 10th-ranked Florida Panthers 4-2.

(One can imagine that Roberto Luongo was quite happy to spite his pals from Boston, eh?)

The Panthers also did the New York Islanders a favor, as this Boston win punches their ticket to the playoffs.

The final stretch

Let’s look at what the wild card looks while ignoring the Detroit Red Wings’ tight contest against the Montreal Canadiens for now:

Wild card spot 1: Ottawa, 97 points, one game left, 36 regulation/OT wins
Wild card spot 2: Pittsburgh, 96 points, two games left, 38 ROW

Bubble: Boston, 95 points, one game left, 37 ROW

As you can probably see, the Bruins need some help after this more-or-less worst-case scenario night. The Penguins face the now-clinched Islanders on Friday and then the lowly Buffalo Sabres on Saturday while the Senators close out their season against the Philadelphia Flyers. Boston faces a Tampa Bay Lightning team that may still be gunning for the Atlantic Division crown, so they can’t expect a casual opponent.

Ultimately, if Ottawa gets a mere point against Philly, it’s over for Boston. The Penguins only need two points in whatever fashion they may get them in their last two games.

It all looks very bleak for the Bruins, who saw former teammate Jaromir Jagr score his 1,800th career point in painful fashion tonight.

(That’s cold.)

(Seriously, ouch.)

The most positive thing is that many people were once counting out the Senators like they’re counting out the Bruins right now.

Jagr optimistic about re-signing with Panthers, potentially for two years

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Jaromir Jagr was seeing his role decline with the New Jersey Devils, but the trade to the Florida Panthers seems to have done him a lot of good. The 43-year-old has gotten regular minutes with 21-year-old Jonathan Huberdeau and 19-year-old Aleksander Barkov and that’s helped Jagr record 14 points in 18 games with the Panthers.

He’s happy there and it sounds like the Panthers are equally pleased with him. There were even reportedly some preliminary talks between his agent and Panthers GM Dale Tallon about the possibility of a contract extension, although at the time the focus was on the playoff race.

With Florida mathematically eliminated though, it’s time for both sides to look towards the future. Jagr, speaking Czech Daily Sport, expressed an interest in inking a two-year deal with Florida, which is a deviation from his policy since returning from the KHL of only signing one-year contracts.

“It’s still too soon to anticipate anything, but there is a pretty big chance we’ll come to an agreement (with Florida). It depends on the club. If they want to sign me for one year, or for two years,” said Jagr, per NHL.com’s translation. “I did, but let’s see what happens now. It’s too soon to say anything now.”

Florida might ultimately be more comfortable signing Jagr for a single season given his age, but the fact that he’s interested in a two-year deal likely reflects both his feelings about the Panthers and his desire to continue to push the boundaries of how long a player can stay competitive in the modern NHL.

Devils won’t give out team awards this year, Lamoriello mum on why

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It’s been an, ahem, unconventional year in New Jersey, so consider that while reading the latest from The Record’s Tom Gulitti:

Gulitti notes the Devils didn’t hand out trophies during the lockout-shortened ’13 campaign either; the reason given was that it wasn’t a full season.

As for this season, it’s been both odd and disappointing. The Devils began with one head coach (Peter DeBoer) and, barring something crazy, will finish with three (Lamoriello, Adam Oates, Scott Stevens). They also missed the playoffs for the third straight year, something former captain Zach Parise said he “never would’ve predicted.”

“Just because of the way things are run,” Parise said in early March, per the Star-Ledger. “I hope they can pull off something at the end of the year, or next year, and get back in.”

Your guess is as good as any to why the Devils aren’t handing out hardware. If it’s because Lamoriello and company didn’t want to celebrate a disappointing campaign, that’s fine, but New Jersey gave out trophies last year — Jaromir Jagr won MVP, Andy Greene earned Unsung Hero and Ryan Carter took home the Players’ Player — despite the fact the Devils finished 10th in the Eastern Conference, with just 35 wins.

As is often the case in New Jersey, you can probably chalk this latest decision up to Lou being Lou.

Jagr now shares fourth on all-time points list with Ron Francis

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The Florida Panthers kept their faint playoff hopes alive on Thursday with a crushing 6-1 victory over Carolina. Along the way, Jaromir Jagr collected his 721st career goal and 1,077th career assist.

Those 1,798 points put him in a tie with Ron Francis for fourth place on the NHL’s all-time scoring leaderboard. Francis joined the Pittsburgh Penguins during Jagr’s rookie campaign with the franchise and the two played together until the 1998-99 campaign.

Jagr turned 43 on Feb. 15, but he has still managed to score 16 goals and 43 points in 73 contests in 2014-15. To put that in perspective, of players who were 42 or older by Feb. 1 of the applicable campaign, Gordie Howe is the all-time single season leader with 52 points. Jagr is just the fifth player to get at least 43 points in a season at 42 (again, by Feb. 1) or older along with Mark Recchi, Igor Larionov, and Mark Messier, per Hockey Reference.

It’s likely that his longevity will continue to be put to the test as Florida is interested in re-signing him for the 2015-16 campaign. The Panthers’ interest isn’t surprising given that he has 14 points in 16 games since joining the team from New Jersey.

His success with Florida also means this tie might not last long.