Devils Are Playing Their Best Hockey Of The Season, But Playoffs Still A Long Shot

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Jaromir Jagr sounds like a beaten man.

Though the Devils have played better of late in their quest to sneak into the playoffs, they are doing it without much of a contribution from Jagr — and it’s not because the sixth leading scorer in NHL history is playing poorly.

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He’s just not playing that much — and he’s not happy about it.

“You don’t have the touches. You don’t even know what to do with the puck when you get it. It’s 50 percent of chances are gone,” Jagr told reporters on Wednesday.

Earlier in the season Jagr’s playing time would mostly fluctuate between 17 and 20 minutes per game on average, but over the last seven games, in which Jagr has been held without a point, he’s played more than 17 minutes just once, including a season-low 12:13 against Carolina on Saturday and just 12:49 against Arizona on Monday.

Jagr’s foul mood, combined with the Devils still needing to make up a ton of ground in the Eastern Conference playoff race, has many speculating that he will be traded by Monday’s 3 p.m. deadline. Though the 23-year veteran has said repeatedly that he will not ask to be dealt, he’s been sounding more and more like someone who wants out.

“I think it might change the other way if I stay here,” the 43-year-old future Hall of Famer said of his dwindling playing time. “That’s all I really worry about. If I stay here and we’re not going to have a chance to playoffs, I don’t think I’m going to play at all. And I still like to play. I like this team, I love this team, but if it’s going to be after the trading deadline and we’re going to be (out of playoff contention), it’s going to get worse. I know that.”

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Winners of four straight, the Devils entered Wednesday’s game against visiting Calgary in 11th place in the East, eight points back of the final playoff spot with 22 games remaining. While the deficit can be made up, New Jersey has just a 14 percent chance of making the postseason, according to SportsClubStats.com.

Jagr has done the math as well.

“How many games do we have left? You still have to win probably 20 games, get to 95 points to make the playoffs. 20 of (22), that’s a pretty high percentage,” Jagr said.

Jagr, who has 1,784 points, including 716 goals, during his legendary career, has been stuck on 11 goals and 18 assists this season since Feb. 7.

Reports earlier this month said Jagr hoped to be traded to a contending team in the East, and of late president and general manager Lou Lamoriello has gotten calls about the veteran winger’s availability. He has reportedly told potential suitors that the Devils are still trying to make the playoffs.

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So with the deadline looming, how they do the rest of this week will likely decide Jagr’s fate.