This is probably the first time that Jaromir Jagr has made it to 20 games without a goal. Without going through and sorting through 19 seasons—17 of which are 25-goal seasons—of a career that produced 681 goals and appeared in the top 10 goal scorers eight times, I’m quite sure Jagr has never gone 20 goal-less in a row.
What is amazing to me is that Jagr never won a Rocket Richard Trophy. In 1995, 1996, 1999 and 2006 he finished second, and he’s first among all active players in goals (six ahead of Teemu Selanne, though Jagr also has 78 playoff goals and Selanne has only 42). Amazingly, he did all this despite losing two-and-a-half seasons to a lockout and had three seasons with Avangard of the KHL.
But the playoffs aren’t about past accomplishments. None of that matters right now. The fact that Jagr is goal-less in the playoffs is about as inconsequential as the fact that he’s lit 759 goal lamps in his distinguished career. For all we know, No. 760 could be a Stanley Cup winner, and everybody will forget that Mike Milbury ripped him during the first intermission of Game 2.
(Side note, is a Mike Milbury hatchet job the hockey equivalent of the Colbert Bump? Milbury tore off on Alex Ovechkin and that guy went out and won an MVP award. Milbury traded Zdeno Chara, Roberto Luongo and Todd Bertuzzi and Bryan Berard and Wade Redden and there are just too many names to fit into that list.)
Every good player will go about 40 shifts before recording a point. In the other 39, it’s quite possible that they look bad, turn the puck over or look generally sloppy. There isn’t a player in the NHL that plays significant minutes you could crop together some video of without making him look lazy or uninterested.
You can look at a goal-scoring slump, tie it to a large number of shots and still conclude that the player isn’t looking as dangerous as he does. Ever since Tyler Seguin’s demotion to the Bruins’ third line, he hasn’t looked like his offensive explosive self. There’s something different with Jagr. Everybody knows he hasn’t scored, but everybody wants him to score. At 41, Jagr has turned the NHL ice sheet into one giant game of keepaway. The puck is, frankly, on his stick more than the stick of any other player at this point. When a rush doesn’t materialize, Jagr will take a puck in 1-on-4 and fight until he’s ceded control. Jagr doesn’t concede defeat.
If he were producing and not mired in the longest slump of his career, maybe he avoids Milbury’s wrath. It’s difficult to use past goal totals to predict future ones. Critics can say that he has yet to light a lamp, but he has 51 shots on goal, and that doesn’t count the post he hit in Game 2 of the overtime.
Boston has already earned a split on the road in the Stanley Cup Finals. Jagr or no, they have been getting excellent results without his stick. Other than the play he made on Evgeni Malkin (could have been a hook) in the second OT of the third game against the Penguins, Jagr hasn’t been involved in a scoring play of consequence.
How far back are you going if you’re trying to forecast the number of goals Jagr will score in the final (potentially) five games to go? 51 shots and 0 goals, but he’s a career 13.7% shooter. Trying to forecast anything over a such a short period is damn near impossible. There simply isn’t enough games for anything to make sense. His lack of production hasn’t seemed to had an effect on the Bruins’ wins and loss record in this postseason. They’ve been doing fine without it. Every indication is that Jagr is playing well and playing even better as games progress into the later periods. His training routine sounds insane.
Which is weird. They tell you that in hockey, you have to create your own luck. Jagr has been playing pro hockey for 22 years. He’s earned a lot of karma over his career and could use a bit of it now. It’s ironic when looking at Jagr’s prolonged slump because he started off his Bruins career by having a winning goal deflect into the net off of his skate. Why is that a goal but a wrist shot that beats Corey Crawford in overtime isn’t? The GIF of his face of disapproval is absolutely perfect.
It’s somebody who has been doing most of everything right offensively but has been bitten by a snake with particularly poisonous venom. You’d think that a high-profile, European forward without a single goal in the postseason would be a recipe for a lot more abuse. Milbury is the exception. Reporters seem to love Jagr’s act and Jagr’s play, and it doesn’t exactly take a community college degree to be able to tell that Jagr is playing well enough to have scored six or seven goals by now. What’s happened luck-wise in the last 20 games should have no impact on the rest of Jagr’s shots, just as much as the previous 759 regular season and playoff goals have no impact on the game going forward. Right now Jagr is just an old guy doing everything right and is a pleasure to watch. For longtime fans of hockey who never really appreciated him during his first NHL go-round, it’s good to see that he’s not all the way bad in 2013. He can still contribute and his keep-away prowess has kept the puck out of his own zone. He’s not only effective carrying the puck, but he’s also very fun to watch doing so.