Jaromir Jagr shines in debut for Flyers

Flyers forward Brayden Schenn skates with the puck in the first period of the game with the Red Wings. The Flyers won, 3-1.
Flyers forward Brayden Schenn skates with the puck in the first period of the game with the Red Wings. The Flyers won, 3-1. (TONY DING / Associated Press)
Posted: September 24, 2011

DETROIT - In the summer, Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren gambled by giving free-agent right winger Jaromir Jagr a $3.3 million, one-year contract - outbidding Pittsburgh and Detroit - and hoping the future Hall of Famer could still be productive at age 39.

So far, so good.

In his Flyers debut Friday night, Jagr had a goal and an assist in the opening period, sparking the Flyers to a 3-1 exhibition win over the Detroit Red Wings at the Joe Louis Arena.

Coach Peter Laviolette gave Jagr high praise for the way he "fit into the system," but the veteran winger said he did "worse" than he expected and that his timing needs work.

"My game's still improving," he said. "I've got to get better [with my] skating. We still have two weeks to get ready."

Skating on a line with Brayden Schenn and James van Riemsdyk, Jagr made some eye-opening passes.

"We had some shifts that were pretty good, with the cycle. That's my game," Jagr said. "That's how I wanted to play. But it's the first time we played together, and we need to get used to each other."

Jagr said playing in NHL-sized rinks - not his age - is what concerns him the most about his comeback. He spent the previous three years playing in the wider Russian rinks, where the games are more about finesse.

"It's two different games with the same rules," Jagr said before the game. "You've got to skate a lot more [in Russia], and here most of the guys are a lot bigger, and most of the teams play the trap, and the style is more aggressive."

After the Flyers (2-1-1) fell into an early 1-0 hole, Jagr and impressive rookie center Sean Couturier helped set up van Riemsdyk's third goal in the last two preseason games. Fifty-two seconds later, with 1 minutes, 42 seconds to go in the period, Jagr gave the Flyers a 2-1 lead. Scott Hartnell poked the puck away from defenseman Garnet Exelby out front, and Jagr wristed a 15-footer past goalie Jimmy Howard.

Meanwhile, winger Matt Read collected a goal and an assist and took a major step toward winning a roster spot. Read, 25, has four points in three preseason games.

Breakaways. Sergei Bobrovsky was sharp again in goal. He has allowed one goal in two games. . . . Center Michael Nylander, a former linemate of Jagr's who is attempting to make the team on a tryout contract, has not played in any of the Flyers' four exhibition games. He is bothered by a minor lower-body injury, which is not related to his offseason, spinal-fusion surgery, according to Holmgren. Nylander is expected to play Monday against the Rangers at the Wells Fargo Center. . . . Rookie winger Mike Testwuide could join Jody Shelley on the suspension list. In the first period, he was given a five-minute, checking-from-behind major - he leveled Brendan Smith - and a game misconduct.

Contact staff writer Sam Carchidi at scarchidi@phillynews.com, or @BroadStBull on Twitter.


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