Old meshes with young as Jagr and Giroux find chemistry

Posted: October 31, 2011

 "I guess 39 is the new 20."

- Claude Giroux, on Jaromir Jagr's age

It is a strange on-ice marriage, one that no one could have imagined last season: Center Claude Giroux, the Flyers' 23-year-old emerging superstar, and still-effective-after-all-these-years Jaromir Jagr, a future Hall of Famer who calls Giroux "Little Mario Lemieux."

Together, along with left winger Scott Hartnell, a recent addition to the unit, they have formed the Flyers' most lethal line in the early part of the season.

"Don't forget, the age difference between me and G is about 20 years, and how I play hockey and how he plays hockey is totally different," said Jagr, said after the Flyers' 5-1 win over Carolina on Saturday night. "Somehow, we have to figure out how to try to play together.

"Hockey, in 20 years, has changed a lot. . . . It is going to take time and [we'll] learn from the game and practice."

Take time? Jagr, a wide-bodied right winger, and Giroux have had almost-instant chemistry since they were put together on a preseason line with James van Riemsdyk.

Giroux entered Sunday tied for second in the NHL with 15 points (seven goals, eight assists). Jagr has five goals - all in the last four games.

Oh, and Hartnell, who had been mired in a slump, has regained his scoring touch since he replaced van Riemsdyk on the "Little Mario" line.

In the five games since they have been together, the unit has combined for 11 goals and 12 assists and a plus-8 rating. In the last four games, they have combined for 23 points and a plus-13 rating.

"They seem to have some chemistry out there," coach Peter Laviolette said.

The much-maligned Hartnell has led the way in the last four games with nine points (four goals, five assists), while Giroux (two goals, five assists) and Jagr (five goals, two assists) each have seven points in that span.

"You need the three guys to mix together," Jagr said, "and everybody brings something special."

Jagr, who spent the previous three seasons playing in Russia, brings soft hands and dominating puck control along the boards; Hartnell brings a big-body presence in front; and Giroux brings speed and flashy, eye-opening moves.

"Obviously, they're two big bodies, so I try to sneak around them," said the 5-foot-11, 172-pound Giroux, referring to his linemates. "I'm pretty lucky to play with those two."

"The more games we play together, the more comfortable it's going to be," said Jagr, who has 651 career goals, five shy of equaling Brendan Shanahan for 11th place in NHL history.

Breakaways. Danny Briere, who missed Saturday's game with an unspecified injury, hopes to play Wednesday in Buffalo, his old stomping grounds. Officially, he is listed as day to day. . . . Former Flyer Ville Leino (one goal, one assist) has struggled with the Sabres and hasn't scored a goal in his last nine games. . . . The Flyers (22.2 percent success rate) and Sabres (21.9 percent) are ranked Nos. 6 and 7 in power-play success in the 30-team NHL. . . . Ian Laperriere, the Flyers' injured winger, will show his support for patients/survivors of the deadly disease that took his father - pancreatic cancer - by taking part in PurpleStride Philadelphia on Saturday. He will be a guest speaker at Memorial Hall in Fairmount Park. The 5K walk and run benefits the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. For more info, visit www.purplestride.org.


Contact staff writer Sam Carchidi at scarchidi@phillynews.com or @BroadStBullon Twitter.

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