Blogs > In The Room with Anthony SanFilippo

Daily Times beat writer Anthony J. SanFilippo takes you inside the locker rooms of the Philadelphia Flyers and the rest of the NHL.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Jagr back in BIg Apple, Briere out of the lineup

NEW YORK – Like many people, Jaromir Jagr is going home for the holidays.
Well, sort of.
Jagr returned to Madison Square Garden for the first time since leaving the Rangers to play in Russia following the 2008 playoffs.
Then next week, Jagr gets to go back to Pittsburgh, the place he won two Stanley Cups and a town that feels like they were spurned by him badly last summer when he chose to play in Philadelphia rather than go back to the Penguins.
“It’s part of the business of hockey but hopefully it’s not going to be as bad as Pittsburgh will be,” Jagr said of his return to the Big Apple. “It was hard in Pittsburgh before but it’s going to be crazy next week. I don’t know what to expect in New York, but in Pittsburgh, I know what to expect.”
If nothing else, Jagr had some positive recollections about his time spent with the Rangers and their organization.
“I cannot say one bad thing about the Rangers,” Jagr said. “They were good to me. The city, the organization – everybody. It was right after the lockout and the Rangers hadn’t made the playoffs in eight years and we had an unknown team and nobody was giving us any credit. Coach Tom Renney did a great job. Too bad I got injured before the playoffs my first year because I thought we could go very far.”
Despite his warm sentiments, it was a sure bet before the game even began that the always passionate New York fan base would greet him with a lusty boo.
And they didn’t disappoint.
However , those fans should remember that Jagr was the key piece to turning the Rangers from a perennial loser back into a playoff contender.
As a matter of fact, the last game Jagr played in Madison Square Garden was Game 4 of the 2008 Eastern Conference Semifinals against Pittsburgh.
In that game, with his team on the brink of being swept by the Pens, Jagr scored two goals and added an assist to have a hand in all three Rangers goals in a 3-0 victory for New York.
They would go on to lose the series in five games.
The last time Jagr played a game in Manhattan as a visiting player dates all the way back to January, 2003 as a member of the Washington Capitals. In that game, which ended in a 2-2 tie (remember those) Jagr was held scoreless and finished a minus-1.
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Danny Briere became the latest Flyer to join a crowded team infirmary.
Briere missed Friday’s game with the Rangers suffering from what the team called a bruised hand. General manager Paul Holmgren listed him as day-to-day in an emailed injury report.
Briere apparently hurt his right hand against Dallas Wednesday, getting slashed by a Dallas player during a scrum. A screenshot captured by a Versus camera during the game shows the ring finger on Briere’s hand looking bruised and swollen.
Replays appear to show that a stick caught Briere’s hand hard, but it was difficult to tell which Stars player the stick belonged to, although both Vernon Fiddler and Mark Fistric where in the vicinity.
With Briere out of the lineup, it was assumed Ben Holmstrom would be re-inserted.
Uh, not so fast.
Instead, with the HBO cameras rolling and the hockey world watching what is a tune up for the Winter Classic, the Flyers chose to dress Jody Shelley while keeping Zac Rinaldo and Tom Sestito in the lineup as well.
Dressing all the big boys meant the plan was to approach this Rangers game physically.
“The Rangers have played well to this point and there’s no mistaking that they’re in the top of the conference,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “They’ve done it by finding a strong team identity and playing it hard to find success. That’s what makes the game exciting. There was more talk about not losing sight of things in a game against Dallas – a Western Conference team in the middle of a long, long month for us. This is a game that doesn’t need a whole lot of words. That energy, man I hope we have it and we have more pop than we know what to do with. Given that choice I’d rather have all that energy and let it out.”
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NOTES: Both rookies Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn, sidelined with concussions, skated Friday in Voorhees at the Flyers’ practice facility. It was Couturier’s first skating session. Both players are considered day-to-day… Matt Walker joined Holmstrom as a healthy scratch… The Flyers will take off the next two days to celebrate the Christmas Holiday. They return to practice Monday.


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