JAROMIR JAGR said yesterday that his goal was to push Claude Giroux over the top in the NHL's Art Ross Trophy race during the second half of the season.
Last night, as the Flyers' kicked off their second half against Winnipeg, Jagr's goal was just to make it through the entire game.
Lately, his 39-year-old body hasn't held up as planned. He missed the two games before the All-Star break with a groin injury that had nagged him since before Thanksgiving. It never completely healed.
"Maybe I just don't know how to deal with injuries," Jagr said before the game. "Maybe I'm too impatient. I just want to play every opportunity I get."
And so, Jagr returned to the lineup last night and played 15:36, a solid number considering he went through four games this season (Nov. 17, Nov. 23, Jan. 2 and Jan. 21) without lasting 8 minutes before his uncooperative groin forced him to hit the showers.
Last night, the age of his two power-play linemates - Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn - combined to match his 39 years.
Aside from their goaltender, Jagr might be the Flyers' biggest key to the second half, because, when he's producing, so is everyone else. Jagr posted 29 points in his first 29 games with the Flyers but slowed to a trickle with five points in his last 11 games.
Not coincidentally, Claude Giroux went without a goal in that 11-game stretch, posting nine assists.
Then again, Jagr warned that one full contest might not be a good barometer, since he played full games against Minnesota and the Islanders before sitting out again.
"I feel good," Jagr said after the game. "I was a little bit tired during the third period. I was playing a lot for a guy who didn't play for a long time. For the last 10 minutes, I was on the ice every other shift."
Nursing a concussion over the 5-day NHL All-Star break, Danny Briere never actually got away from the rink. That's because he spent the weekend driving his three boys back and forth to their hockey games.
Briere, 34, was back on the ice yesterday during the Flyers' morning skate, putting his symptoms to the test with hard skating after his teammates left the ice. He's missed the last three games since getting hit in New Jersey on Jan. 21.
James van Riemsdyk, still out since Jan. 14 with a concussion, also skated but declined to speak to the media.
"I'm feeling better and better every day," Briere said. "That's the thing with concussions, you just have to hope for the best. You never know from one day to the next what it's going to bring."
Yesterday, he refreshingly blamed himself - and not the referees or NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan - for not protecting himself when he was drilled by the Devils' Anton Volchenkov late in the third period.
While it's not Briere's first concussion, this is the first time he's dealt with startling aftereffects. He's watched Sidney Crosby and teammate Chris Pronger have their seasons put in jeopardy because of head trauma, yet he said he is not scared about missing games for any extended length of time. Briere had a headache as recently as Monday, but he's already passed a baseline test and ramped up his heart rate in exercising.
"I've been fortunate that I didn't have to deal with the symptoms in the past," Briere said. "You have to wait and hope the next day will be good and you're still symptom-free. To be honest, I haven't thought that this would get worse. I try to stay positive. I try to focus on the next day and what I'm going to do. I'm trying to focus and take it to the next day to try and push it to the next level so I can get back in the lineup."
Luukko in Billboard
Flyers president Peter Luukko, president and chief operating officer of Ed Snider's Comcast-Spectacor business conglomerate, was named to Billboard's Power 100 list of executives last week.
Luukko, 52, came in at No. 71 on the prestigious list as the overseer of the more than 100 arenas the company's ever-expanding Global Spectrum arm manages. Spectacor's ticketing assets, Paciolan and New Era Tickets, have become strong competitors to Ticketmaster with more than 20 million tickets sold last year.
Luukko beat out such figures as country singer Taylor Swift (No. 78), pop star Lady Gaga (No. 84) and "American Idol" executive producer Nigel Lythgoe (No. 92).
Only 1 day after one of the top unrestricted free agent defensemen on the market, Carolina's Tim Gleason, decided to sign a 4-year, $16 million extension, the price might be set on another.
TSN insider Darren Dreger reported last night that if Nashville were to trade Ryan Suter, a player the Flyers covet, it would want an NHL player, an "A'' prospect, a ''B'' prospect and a first-round pick in return.
ESPN's Pierre LeBrun also reported that the Flyers would be interested in such cheaper rentals as Montreal's Hal Gill and Dallas' Nicklas Grossman.