Jagr’s Homecoming Turns Sour
PRAGUE, Czech Republic (AP) _ Boos, whistles and empty beer cans were hurled at the ice as Jaromir Jagr’s supposedly triumphant homecoming turned into a nightmare.
Jagr’s appearance in the World Cup on Thursday was his first on a national team in front of Czech fans who were hoping to catch a glimpse of the hero they otherwise only know from television.
``We played strange hockey tonight,″ the disappointed Jagr said in the locker room after the Czechs were shut out by Sweden 3-0 in its second World Cup game. On Tuesday, the Czechs were crush by the Finns 7-2 in Helsinki.
``I have no self-confidence, the team has no self-confidence, we must be afraid of soemthing,′ Jagr said.
The Czechs’ offensive game was almost non-existent. They were outshot 27-17, managing only one shot on goal in the second period.
The victory assures Sweden of a place in the second round. Finland also advanced with an 8-3 rout of Germany on Wednesday.
The Czechs will play the Germans in Garmisch-Partenkirchen on Saturday for the remaining spot in round 2 of the European pool.
Does Jagr expect a win?
``After the two matches I have seen with this team I wouldn’t be surprised if we lost,″ he said with a sad smile.
Czech coach Ludek Bukac thinks the conditioning of the team and lack of training time can be faulted for the bad peformance.
``This tournament is a good opportunity to see how we can combine NHL players and players who play at home for the Olympic games tournament,″ Bukac said.
``The tournament is open and the game in Germany will decide on who is going to advance,″ he said.
Mats Sundin of the Toronto Maple Leafs opened the scoring for Sweden at 9:48 of the first period on a breakaway. Fed by Niklas Lindstroem at the blue line, he beat Roman Turek.
Just 57 seconds into the second period, Calle Johansson scored the second goal for Sweden with a shot from the blue line assisted by Peter Forsberg.
At 13:34 of the second period, Jonas Bergqvist scored the third goal with a low shot from the right wing.
The Czech team, which includes 14 NHL players including Petr Nedved of the Pittsburgh Penguins, never found a way to penetrate Sweden’s defense.
They also missed last year’s Vezina Trophy-winning goalie Dominik Hasek of the Buffalo Sabres, who turned down the invitation to play the World Cup for personal reasons.