Playing with pain
Though he can't skate well, Jagr continues to suit up
Posted: Saturday May 08, 1999 07:46 PM
The NHL scoring champion is laboring with a sore muscle in his upper right leg.
"I didn't feel very good," Jagr said following Pittsburgh's 2-0 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday in the opening game the Eastern Conference semifinals. "I felt the worst I've felt in the last three games.
"I just have to play through it. I've got two options: play with the pain or sit."
So, he intends to lace up his skates and go Sunday night in Game 2.
"It's kind of frustrating, but even though I can't play 100 percent I can still help this team," Jagr said.
He was on the ice for 6:58 in the first period, 9:15 in the second period, and 6:27 in the third. A good portion of that time was spent coasting. He managed three shots on Toronto goalie Curtis Joseph.
"I cannot skate, so that's why I don't get tired," Jagr said. "I can stay longer."
Jagr said that, if somebody could guarantee him his sore muscles would heal quickly, he'd consider sitting out games. But nobody has offered such guarantees.
He sat out three of seven games when the Penguins upset the New Jersey Devils on the first round of the playoffs.
Jagr and his teammates kidded Dan Kesa about scoring the winning goal Friday night. Kesa, who plays on Pittsburgh's checking line, scored only two goals all season, and did not take a single shot in the New Jersey series.
"Both were with his legs," Jagr said of the regular-season goals by Kesa. "He hasn't scored with his stick. That's the first one."
Kesa, 27, who has a bulldog tattoo on his upper right biceps, has spent most of his career in the minors. These are his first NHL playoffs.
The goal was his biggest since he netted two during an IHL-championship- clinching victory two years ago with the Detroit Vipers.
"Anytime you play the first two games of a series on the road you want to get a split," said Penguins forward Rob Brown. "We've got that. Now we're going to try to get the second win.
"We know we're going to have to play better, but it was a good start."
Matthew Barnaby agreed, but cautioned that the Penguins must continue to play hard.
"You can 't get too confident over one win," he said. "It'll come back and bite you if you do."
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