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Bruins make yet another attempt to power up with Jagr acquisition

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff  April 3, 2013 10:30 AM

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On June 16, 1990, MC Hammerís ďU Canít Touch ThisĒ peaked at No. 8 on the Billboard charts. Mike Boddicker won his eighth game and Wade Boggs hit his fourth home run of the season as the Red Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles, 6-3. England and the Netherlands tied, 0-0, in the World Cup, eventually won by West Germany.

The NHL Draft also took place. Jaromir Jagr was selected fifth overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Not that Jagr is alone in that regard among active players. A certain Hall of Fame goalie still stopping pucks in New Jersey was selected 20th overall that same year (the Bruins selected a John Gruden 168th overall), and both Jagr (14 goals, 12 assists with Dallas) and Martin Brodeur (10-3, 2.27 GAA, .905 save percentage) continue to play at a level that is in no way indicative of being over the hill.

Jagr will walk into the Bruinsí dressing room Wednesday and immediately become the teamís fourth-highest scorer, tied with Tyler Seguinís 26 points on the season. At 21, the Bruins' youngster is Jagr's junior by two decades.

Jagrís six power play goals with the Stars this season are twice as many as Brad Marchand or Seguin have netted this season, a clear sign that the Bruins hope his acquisition can aid the ailing power play in a more dynamic way than say, oh, Tomas Kaberle, failed miserably at doing two seasons ago.

Jagr, acquired by Boston from Dallas for Lane MacDermind, Cody Payne, and a conditional second-round pick that will become a first should the Bruins reach the Eastern Conference finals, gives the Bruins line options that could dramatically improve what, to this point, has been only the 11th-highest scoring offense in the NHL, and the leagueís worst power play (14 goals in 49 opportunities, a dismal 14.7 percent success rate). While he might seem a fit for the third line, odds are that Claude Julien tabs Jagr for the first line, where heís played with fellow countrymate David Krejci, who also teamed up with Jagr during the 2010 Winter Olympics in British Columbia. That team finished seventh in the tournament, with each Krejci and Jagr adding a goal and three assists over five games for the Czech Republic.

Nathan Horton may have scored for the fourth straight game in last nightís thrilling 3-2 win over the Ottawa Senators, but dropping him to the third line spreads out the scoring threats, especially the way Julien rolls his lines. The first line is the second line, is the third line. Whatís the diff?

Of course, the wild card in the way Julien sets up his lines for the stretch run is now the health of Patrice Bergeron, who left Tuesday nightís game after a collision with Colin Greening and did not return. At first glance, the possibility of a concussion appeared benign, but the fact that the standout Bruins center has suffered three prior concussions has to give the Bruins immediate pause for the long-term health of their franchise player. But make no mistake, if Bergeron is out, so too are the Bruinsí chances of making a Cup run. Jagr or no Jagr.

Still, with the win over Ottawa, the Bruins are now only one point behind the Montreal Canadiens for second place in the Eastern Conference. They donít seem concerned north of the border though. In a survey conducted by the Montreal Gazette, only 34 percent of Habs fans wished the Canadiens had acquired Jagr in lieu of the Bruins. Saturdayís game in Montreal lingers.

Jagr arrives in Boston today, and should be suited up Thursday night against the New Jersey Devils at the Garden. Funny how that works out.

Maybe Brodeur will be in net, a reunion of the old draft class of 1990, still getting it done at the ages of 40-plus. The Devils have been floundering of late (nine overtime losses on the season), which puts into some perspective the struggles the Bruins have gone through the last month or so.

But the playoffs are on the horizon. And Jaromir Jagr, the greatest European scorer in NHL history, is going to be a part of them for the Boston Bruins. Itís a fascinating development that could a pivotal key ingredient for lasting into June.

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About the Author

Eric Wilbur is a Boston.com sports columnist who is still in awe of what Dana Kiecker pulled off that one time in Toronto. He lives in the Boston area with his wife and three children. Comments and suggestions for the best Buffalo wing spots are encouraged.

Contact Eric Wilbur by e-mail or follow him on Twitter.


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