Crosby, Giroux lumped together for wrong reasons

Flyers forward Claude Giroux takes a shot during the warmup prior to a game against the Rangers at...

Flyers forward Claude Giroux takes a shot during the warmup prior to a game against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden in New York, N.Y., Nov. 26, 2011. (BRUCE BENNETT/Getty Images/AFP)

CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:34 PM ET

Claude Giroux's continued progression as a bonafide offensive force in the NHL has been a big reason why the Philadelphia Flyers lead the Eastern Conference.

His ascension to the top of the NHL scoring race has been one of the good stories this season and, in the absence of Sidney Crosby, some would argue he has been the NHL's best player.

Being mentioned in the same breath as Crosby is a huge compliment.

Now they are lumped together for an unfortunate reason as we must wait to see when they both will return to the lineup after dealing with concerns over brain trauma.

The other thing they have in common -- and this points out how the risk of concussion is going to be there in hockey no matter how many rules are put in place -- is they are dealing with issues as a result of collisions with teammates.

Crosby ran into teammate Chris Kunitz a week ago -- it was a jarring hit, with no direct contact with the head (but as we've learned, rotational forces can be just as damaging). Giroux was kneed by teammate Wayne Simmonds Saturday night after Giroux fell in the neutral zone and Simmonds tried to jump over him, but caught him in the back of the head.

Flyers GM Paul Holmgren said Giroux was "feeling better" Sunday and will be evaluated Monday.

"I don't think he's going to be out," said Flyers forward Jaromir Jagr. "I don't even want to think about it, but I don't think he's going to be out. That's my prediction. If he is, maybe one or two games, no more. I think maybe one or two just to be careful, hopefully. When I asked him, I thought he was going to play, I didn't know he was going to sit the third period. But, of course, you have to be careful with players like that, but I think he should be fine. Hopefully I'm not wrong."

Hopefully.

Flyers defenceman Chris Pronger, meanwhile, who was first diagnosed with a virus, is off to consult with concussion experts in Pittsburgh on Monday. He was never right after being swatted in the face by Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mikhail Grabovski on the follow through of a shot.

Speaking of Pittsburgh and Crosby, there is no change in his status and the team remains hopeful he can return to the lineup Tuesday against the Detroit Red Wings. Crosby had a headache after colliding with Kunitz and the Penguins held him out of two games as a precaution.

The Penguins have had a total of eight players concussed in this calendar year, with rookie defenceman Robert Bortuzzo the latest. He got hit by Philly's Zac Rinaldo and joins defencemen Kris Letang and Zybynek Michalek, all out indefinitely with concussions.

Not a good time right now for the Pennsylvania teams and concussions.

HEAR AND THERE

Agitator Sean Avery was a healthy scratch for the New York Rangers Sunday. I guess the only surprise was it didn't take longer. This might be an unfair characterization of the situation, but Blueshirts coach John Tortorella seems to look for reasons to sit Avery out, rather than reasons to keep him in the lineup. Torts said he was concerned about shootouts and has other guys who can do what Avery can. Despite starting the year in the minors and only joining the team in November, Avery has been in the lineup for 10 of the Rangers' 16 wins this season going into Sunday's game. As far as being concerned about shootouts, if you're getting down to your fourth-line guys in the shootout, I'd suggest somebody else isn't getting the job done ... The Columbus Blue Jackets have hired Craig Patrick as a senior advisor. The former GM of the Penguins will continue to live in Pittsburgh and advise Jackets GM Scott Howson on all aspects of the operation. Let the rumour mill begin.

chris.stevenson@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/CJ_Stevenson


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