Notebook: Jagr named NHL’s Player of the Month
Jaromir Jagr was named the league’s Player of the Month for March, marking the third consecutive month the Penguins gained the honor. Mario Lemieux won it in January, and Alexei Kovalev won it in February.
Jagr had the best month of all, with an NHL-best 31 points (15 goals, 16 assists) in 15 games. Lemieux had 25 points in 14 games in January; Kovalev had 20 points in 11 games in February.
Jagr recorded points in 12 of 15 games, including nine multiple-point games. He opened the month with points in six consecutive games, including a four-point performance (two goals, two assists) as the Penguins defeated the New York Rangers, 7-5, on March 2.
Jagr recorded his third hat trick of the season and added two assists to lead the Penguins to a 6-3 home victory over the Calgary Flames on March 10. On Thursday, he had four points (two goals, two assists) in a 5-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. He added two goals and an assist Saturday in a 5-3 victory over the St. Louis Blues.
Lemieux also was considered for Player of the Month. He had 12 goals and 16 assists in 14 games and had a seven-game scoring streak from March 7-17, recording 14 points in that span (seven goals, seven assists).
Lemieux, who sat out Monday’s game against the New York Islanders, has a 1.73 points-per-game average (71 points in 41 games), the highest in the NHL since 1995-96. Lemieux averaged 2.3 points per game that season while Jagr averaged 1.82.
NO HARD FEELINGS
Penguins goaltender Garth Snow was ready to play last week, but he understood why Penguins coach Ivan Hlinka opted to keep Johan Hedberg in the nets.
‘Heddy came in and played well from the get-go, gave us a boost when we were sagging,’ Snow said. ‘If I was the coach, I’d probably do the same thing.’
Snow said he also understood that Penguins’ management wanted to make sure he was 100 percent healthy. He’d been out for nearly two months with a strained groin.
‘I’ve been around long enough to know when a guy’s out two months, you might be a little tentative, because, one, you want to make sure he doesn’t get injured again, and, two, the timing is a factor after two months,’ Snow said. ‘You can’t hide the position of goal like you can with a forward or a defenseman. You have to make sure a guy is 100 percent ready to go. I understood what was going on.’
The Penguins and the Detroit Red Wings are the only teams in the NHL that have not lost three games in a row this season. The Penguins, in fact, could become the first team in franchise history to avoid a three-game losing streak. … The Penguins’ streak of 11 consecutive playoff appearances is second only to the St. Louis Blues’ run of 22 in row. The Islanders have missed the playoffs a league-high seven consecutive years. … Penguins defenseman Marc Bergevin was rested last night. … Johan Hedberg was the backup goaltender. … The Islanders entered last night’s game with a record of 4-34-4-2 when their opponent scores first and 1-40-1-2 when trailing after two periods. … Going into last night’s game, Islanders defenseman Zdeno Chara led the NHL in hits with 353. Florida’s Robert Svehla was second with 335, and the Penguins’ Darius Kasparaitis was third with 328.
The Penguins scratched Lemieux, Bergevin, winger Kevin Stevens (knee), defenseman Janne Laukkanen (knee), winger Rene Corbet (foot), goaltender Jean-Sebastien Aubin and defenseman Hans Jonsson (elbow). … The Islanders scratched winger Brad Isbister (knee), center Jason Krog, center Jason Blake (family matter) and defenseman Evgeny Korolev.