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Free LCS 1997-98
Reader Hockey Pool
head coach: Kevin Constantine
roster: C - Ron Francis, Martin Straka, C. Ferraro, Tyler Wright, Robert Lang. LW - Stu Barnes, Andreas Johansson, Alex Hicks, Garry Valk. RW - Jaromir Jagr, Alexei Morozov, Ed Olczyk, Robby Brown. D - Darius Kasparaitis, Kevin Hatcher, Chris Tamer, Fredrik Olausson, Neil Wilkinson, Ian Moran, Brad Werenka, Jiri Slegr. G - Tom Barrasso, Ken Wregget.
injuries: Ian Moran, d (concussion, day-to-day).
Eastern Conference - Northeast Division Team GP W L T PTS GF GA Pittsburgh 58 29 16 13 71 160 132 Montreal 56 28 21 7 63 168 141 Boston 56 23 22 11 57 140 138 Ottawa 58 23 25 10 56 130 140 Buffalo 55 22 21 12 56 143 138 Carolina 57 21 29 7 49 139 161
1/26 St. Louis W 4-2 1/28 at Washington T 2-2 1/29 at Boston W 4-2 1/31 Detroit W 4-2 2/02 New York Islanders L 4-2 2/04 Washington T 2-2 2/06 at Buffalo T 2-2 2/07 at Ottawa T 2-2
by Brett Taylor, Pittsburgh Correspondent
Jagr Earning His Money: Jaromir Jagr moved into second place in the NHL's scoring race as of the Olympic break. Jagr has 25 goals and 42 assists for 67 points in 53 games. That's just one point back of Teemu Selanne for the league lead.
Two weeks ago, Jagr signed a four-year contract extension worth $38 million. Combined with his present contract he will make $48 million over the next six years, making him the highest paid player in the league - for now.
At the press conference announcing the signing, Penguins owners Howard Baldwin and Roger Marino made a most unheard of announcement of their own. They announced that the Pens would be slashing ticket prices for next season as well as playoff tickets this season. The team hopes to bring up attendance and consequently bring in more money. The thought is that the team can make more money by filling the arena with lower priced seats than having a 75-percent capacity arena with more expensive tickets.
Now the Pens can turn their focus to team captain Ron Francis and holdout Petr Nedved. Francis becomes an unrestricted free-agent after this season and said he'll seek his value on the market. Nedved has held out all year and the Pens haven't opened talks with him yet. Penguin general manager Craig Patrick said he won't trade Nedved.
Jagr New Pinata: When Mario Lemieux retired he passed on to Jagr the torch as the Pen's big star, leading scorer and offensive leader, as well as the honor of being the league's most exciting player.
What Jagr probably didn't bargain for was Lemieux passing him the torch as the official Penguin pinata.
The league is worse than ever this year. Brett Hull last week lambasted the NHL, a la Lemieux, saying "The league sucks, I wouldn't pay money to see this."
Nowhere is this more apparent than in Pittsburgh. Jagr is mugged on a nightly basis. In the St. Louis game (which Hull sat out still recovering form a broken hand), Jagr and Stu Barnes cut to the net two-on-one, Jagr faked Chris Pronger out of his shorts and fed a pass to Barnes. Realizing he was made to look pretty pathetic by Jagr, Pronger swung his stick back in a last ditch effort to stop Jagr from feeding Barnes. Pronger's stick struck Jagr across the face sending him plummeting shoulder first into the boards and appearing to be out cold.
It didn't look good for Jagr. The collision with the boards was at just an angle that it looked like a definite separated shoulder. After two or three minutes, Jagr got up with only a gash in his lip and a puddle of blood on the ice, he was lucky. For his pain Jagr got to the bench and Pronger did too, with out a penalty.
The game before that, Jagr took a nasty cross-check from Ray Bourque, of all people, sending him head first into the boards causing fear of a neck injury. Again he fortunately got up and went to the bench shaken up but not seriously injured. For Bourque, it was the first game misconduct in his 19-year career.
How Jagr can keep getting up from all these beatings is beyond anyone, but don't be surprised if one of these days he doesn't.
Lemieux retired partly because of all the clutching and grabbing going on. He did so at just the right time, because last year was nothing compared to this one. Every game is refereed like an overtime period in a playoff game.
Swede's Wake Up!: Despite giving up 53 shots on goal last Saturday, the Pens beat Detroit 4-2 at home. They were led by three goals from Swedes Fredrik Olausson and Andreas Johansson. They were their first goals in over a month.
Olausson led the way with his first two-goal game since 1993 and Johansson fired a shot past Detroit goaltender Chris Osgood from the left wing circle for his first goal in 15 games.
Johansson's spirited celebration showed how happy he was to end his long drought. The goal was only his fifth goal of the season to go with 10 assists. Not the kind of numbers expected for such a speedy and skilled young forward, but he was injured.
Johansson is representing team Sweden in the Olympic games in Nagano. Hopefully playing for his country will spark him some and give him the boost needed down the playoff stretch. Olausson declined playing in the Olympics.
Olympic Hiatus: The league is on hiatus until after the Olympics. After a stretch of three straight ties, the tired Pens welcome the rest. They have nine players participating in the games, including Kevin Hatcher, Martin Straka, Jaromir Jagr, Andreas Johansson, Darius Kasparaitis, Jiri Slegr, Alexei Morozov, Robert Lang, and Tuomas Gronman (from Cleveland). The Pens are tied with Colorado for the most players in the Olympics.
Francis gets 1,500th point, Hatcher 200th goal: Pens captain Ron Francis picked up an assist on a power-play goal by Stu Barnes and became only the 11th player in NHL history to record 1,500 career points.
Later in the game Kevin Hatcher notched a power-play goal, his second goal of the game, and became the 11th defenseman in NHL history to score 200 career goals.
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