At 42, ageless right winger Jaromir Jagr is showing no signs of slowing down.
Fact is, he has been the New Jersey Devils’ top forward this season.
Jagr will face his former Flyers teammates Tuesday in a key Metropolitan Division matchup at the Wells Fargo Center.
“He protects the puck really well and you just have to keep him on the outside,” Flyers defenseman Mark Streit said after Monday’s practice in Voorhees.
Older players like Jagr, Streit said, “take care of their bodies and live a good lifestyle, and it makes a difference.”
Jagr, a 6-foot-3, 230-pound physical-fitness addict, is a non-drinker, but veteran Devils goalie Martin Brodeur has been trying to get him to go out for a beer this season. Jagr had always turned him down, but he surprised Brodeur and joined him and a friend on a ride to a cross-town Pittsburgh establishment in December.
When they got there, Jagr pulled a reversal. He smiled, thanked Brodeur for the invite…and then jogged back to the hotel.
Typical Jagr. When he played for the Flyers, the team gave him the keys to their practice rink in Voorhees, and there were numerous times when he went on the ice around midnight for his second workout of the day.
No one respects Jagr more than Flyers right winger Jake Voracek. Jagr was his idol when he grew up in the Czech Republic. They were teammates on the Czech Republic Olympic team in Sochi.
“I’ve got to make sure I check him if I’m on the ice against him,” Voracek said. “I’ve just got to make sure I make his life miserable.”
Not easy to do. Jagr has been on the Devils’ top line all season and has not missed a game. He has 55 points, 20 goals and a plus-17 rating in 65 games, and will probably be on a line Tuesday with center Travis Zajac and left winger Tuomo Ruutu, who was acquired last week from Carolina. Ruutu might bring stability to the line. Jagr has played with seven different left wingers since mid-January.
In NHL history, Jagr is seventh in both goals (701) and points (1,743).
“He knows he’s never been the fastest skater, but I think he’s one of the best players to ever play the game,” Voracek said. “He’s got such strong legs; he’s such a strong player on the puck. Great vision, and one of the top five shots in the game. He has quick hands. With the way he’s playing hockey now, he could play for another five or six years.”
Just don’t ask him to go out for a beer.
Shero statue. The Flyers will unveil a statue of the late Fred Shero Saturday at Xfinity LIve at 11 a.m. The ceremony is free and open to the public.
Shero, who coached the Flyers to Stanley Cups in 1974 and 1975, was inducted into hockey's Hall of Fame in November.
Shero's son, Ray, the Pittsburgh GM, will attend the ceremony. The Flyers host the Penguns that day at 1 p.m.
Breakaways. Jagr's 's Devils are four points behind the Flyers....Goalie Steve Mason will make his sixth straight start Tuesday _ and 12th in the last 13 games….Steve Downie will return to the lineup after missing Saturday’s game with the flu. Downie can become an unrestricted free agent in July: “I’d love to return here,” he said…..In Sunday’s game against the Harlem Globetrotters, Wayne Simmonds had a pair of dunks, one off an alley-oop, hockey-stick pass from Claude Giroux. Simmonds said facing the Globies “adds to my confidence a little on the playgrounds for this summer.”….Ray Emery, who has been battling a groin injury, practiced Monday and is making progress, but Cal Heeter is expected to again be Mason’s backup….New Jersey’s Adam Henrique has nine goals in his last six games, and Flyers coach Craig Berube isn’t sure whether he will put Sean Couturier’s line against Henrique’s or Jagr’s.
Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter @BroadStBull.