With his 42nd birthday just a week away, Jaromir Jagr is used to the “too old” talk.

It’s never deterred him before, though. After all, who would have expected before this season that Jagr would be leading the Devils in goals (17), assists (32) and points (49) heading into their final game before the Olympic break tonight in Washington.

So, it should be no surprise that Jagr scoffs at the suggestions that the Czech Republic’s veteran-filled roster is too old to contend for a medal in Sochi, Russia.

“I don’t think it really matters,” Jagr said. “All the players who play there, we play the same kind of minutes like everybody else in the NHL. You shouldn’t get tired because you play three games there. We are used to it.”

Jagr, who will be playing in his fifth Olympics and leads all Czech-born NHLers in points (also tied for first in goals), is the only player left from the 1998 squad that won gold in Nagano, Japan, but the Czech team, which has an average age of 29.8, is still filled with members of the old guard such as fellow Devils Patrik Elias and Marek Zidlicky, who are both 37. Elias will be competing in his fourth Olympics and Zidlicky will be playing in his third.

Jagr won’t even be the oldest player on the team. That honor belongs to former Ranger Petr Nedved, who has played the last seven seasons in the Czech Extraliga. Nedved turned 42 on Dec. 9.

A fitness freak known for his late-night workouts, Jagr doesn’t see playing three preliminary round games in four days, beginning with Wednesday’s opener against Sweden, as being a problem. As he noted, the Devils’ players are already used to playing a grueling schedule. They completed Saturday the 15th of their league-leading 22 sets of back-to-back games.

As for youthful speed, Jagr believes it’s overrated.

“They say you’re going to be slower. Who cares if you’re slower?” Jagr said. “Whoever has the puck, that team dictates the tempo of the game. Who cares? If everything was about the speed, we would be totally different players probably. (Wayne) Gretzky wasn’t the fastest guy. Guys don’t really get it much.”

With the Olympic games being played on the wider international ice surface – at 100 feet, it’s 15 feet wider than the NHL rinks that were used in Vancouver four years ago – there was a lot of stress placed on speed by the U.S. and Canadian teams during the roster selection process. Having played on the international rink for much of his life, Jagr knows as well as anyone what style works best.

“It’s a totally different game,” he said. “Actually, you don’t need that much speed,” he said. “You have to have the puck possession because if you lose the puck you don’t get it back. It’s tough to get it back.”

The Canadians, who won gold four years ago, are the tournament favorites along with host Russia. The U.S. and Sweden are also considered top medal contenders.

Because of their older roster, Czechs aren’t expected to do much, but Jagr believes they are capable of surprising, particularly in the Olympic tournament’s format. The preliminary round is just for seeding and after that all it takes is three or four consecutive wins – depending on seeding – to capture the gold and just one loss for the favorites to go home.

“You never know,” Jagr said. “It’s a short tournament. It’s all about one game. Everybody can beat everybody on any night. It doesn’t matter how bad you are or how good you are. It’s not the Stanley Cup playoffs where you have to be very good to beat teams four times to go to the next round.

“You have to be good. There’s no question about it. But you also have to be lucky, lucky and hot at the right time. Even if you don’t have a good team, if all the sudden your goalie got very hot or one player or two players got very hot at the same time over 10 days in the season it can happen.”