Jagr says calf injury kept him out

Flyers fans cheer during the second period, when their team took a 2-0 lead over the Rangers.
Flyers fans cheer during the second period, when their team took a 2-0 lead over the Rangers. (DAVID MAIALETTI / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)
Posted: January 03, 2012

JAROMIR JAGR walked out of the Phillies' clubhouse and onto the ice at Citizens Bank Park for the third period just waiting, wishing and hoping that there would be a way that he could factor into the 2012 Winter Classic.

Perhaps, Jagr thought, there would be an opportunity on a five-on-three power play that might not require much skating on his wonky leg.

It never happened.

And so, Jagr spent the final 34 minutes, 48 seconds glued to the Flyers' bench, suffering from an injury that he sustained in Pittsburgh last Thursday.

"The last game in Pittsburgh, I sprained my leg," Jagr explained. "I tried to fight back and try it, but I just couldn't skate. I didn't want to hurt the team."

Some had suggested that coach Peter Laviolette may have benched the NHL's ninth all-time scorer, since Jagr did skate for 10 shifts and 7:09 of ice time over the first two periods. That wasn't the case. Instead, James van Riemsdyk - moving up from the fourth line - filled in for Jagr with Scott Hartnell and Claude Giroux.

Jagr, 39, has 12 goals and 19 assists in 33 games this season and was coming off a scintillating performance in the Steel City.

"I didn't bench him," Laviolette said, referring all injury questions to general manager Paul Holmgren.

The Flyers did release an official injury update, hours after the game ended. While Holmgren said that Jagr is now day-to-day with lower-body injury, Jagr was more specific, stating that it was a calf injury, not just lower-body. So, either way, Jagr's status for Thursday's game against the Blackhawks is questionable.

Other questions were raised about Jagr remaining on the bench for the duration of the game, even though he was too hurt to play. Jagr said on Saturday that he wasn't a fan of playing in the cold weather. The official game-time temperature was 41.1 degrees, though it plummeted throughout the game.

Jagr said the temperatures, which tighten muscles, didn't exactly aid his injury.

"I was hoping that if we got to a power play or something like that [I could play]," Jagr said. "But I just wanted to be with my teammates."

Schenn snags first

Brayden Schenn sustained a shoulder injury in training camp, forcing him to start the season in Adirondack on a conditioning assignment.

When he finally returned to the lineup on Oct. 20, he lasted just four games before fracturing a foot bone when blocking a shot. Then, Schenn got a concussion in his second game back with the team on Dec. 3.

Yesterday, exactly 1 year to the day that he was scoring for Team Canada in the World Junior Championship quarterfinals in Buffalo, Schenn lifted the curse on his season by tallying his first NHL goal, in the second period.

"It's obviously nice scoring your first one, especially in a game like this," Schenn said. "But when you don't get the win in the end, it's just bittersweet."

Schenn is the second Flyer to score his first NHL goal in the Winter Classic, as defenseman Danny Syvret did the same thing in Boston's Fenway Park on Jan. 1, 2010. Both of those goals were scored in the second period and both gave the Flyers a 1-0 lead. Coincidentally, both of those games ended in a 3-2 loss.

Yesterday marked the fourth consecutive Winter Classic in which the team that scored first went on to lose the game.

Still, it was a special moment for Schenn, who entered the year as a highly touted rookie. It was Schenn's first point as a Flyer since being acquired in the Mike Richards trade in June and his first goal in 17 NHL games.

"I guess playing last year and things this year, I think maybe there is a little bit of pressure," Schenn said. "You always want to get your first one. I guess that's over with now and I can move on and look forward."

Peter Laviolette has just one wish for Schenn in the New Year.

"He's had three substantial injuries and a lack of games and a lack of ice time," Laviolette said. "I think the best wish for Brayden for the new year is health because he's a talented person that can come in and do some good things for our organization."

Special day for stripes

Among NHL officials, there is a standard protocol in place that calls for the senior-ranking referee to drop the puck in the opening faceoff of a game. Yesterday was an exception to that rule.

Just before the puck drop, Dennis LaRue handed off to partner and Philadelphia native Ian Walsh, despite having a decade more experience at the NHL level.

"He said to me, 'You drop it. This is your house,' " Walsh said. "It's something that we usually do when a guy works his first game or his first playoff game. But to be able to drop the puck at the start of the game is pretty neat."

Walsh, 39, grew up in Northeast Philadelphia's Lawncrest section and played locally from ages 6 to 18. He decided at age 15 to go into officiating.

Walsh called his first NHL game on Oct. 14, 2000. With more than 400 regular-season games in between, he worked his first playoff game in 2009. Yesterday marked his first Winter Classic assignment - and he couldn't have picked a better venue. Walsh had more than 25 family members and friends in attendance, including his wife, sisters and mother and father.

"I am a huge Phillies fan, so to be able to do it in this building, where I spend a lot of time in the summer, was pretty amazing," Walsh said. "It was an amazing experience."

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