How much would it hurt the Philadelphia Flyers to lose Claude Giroux to a suspension for his shoulder-to-head hit on Danius Zubrus Sunday night?
Even more than Giroux’s wrists are hurting him right now.
If the Flyers manage to get their game back in order and find their way to the Stanley Cup finals, the plucky centre would be a leading candidate to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the playoffs. And should it wind up his, Giroux could have some trouble hoisting the hardware on his own.
A source told the Ottawa Sun over the weekend that Giroux will “definitely” have surgery on one, if not both, of his wrists when the Flyers season ends. It appears this is a fact unknown to the Philadelphia media and anyone else covering the team’s second round series with the New Jersey Devils.
With a goal and an assist in Sunday’s 4-2 season threatening loss, Giroux padded his playoff leading points total to 17 in 10 games. Makes you wonder how good the Orleans-bred 24-year-old would be playing if he were healthy.
Giroux helped the Flyers to a 2-0 first period lead in Game 4 when his wrist shot along the ice was deflected in by Scott Hartnell and, less than two minutes later, he scored a spectacular shorthanded goal with a backhand flick of his wrists.
Somehow, he also managed to win 15 of 22 faceoffs, where strength can be as important as technique.
Giroux received only a two-minute penalty for launching himself into Zubrus with three seconds left in the second period. While there are already many calling for Sheriff (Brendan) Shanahan to suspend Giroux, the only real difference from Alex Ovechkin’s hit on Dan Girardi Saturday is that Ovechkin left his feet before making contact.
And he didn’t get suspended.
By playing the way he has, Giroux has further established himself as one of the best all-round players in the world. By playing through the pain he’s in, Giroux is proving he has much heart as he does talent.
Alas, it looks like it’s going to take more than heart and talent to defeat the system coach Peter DeBoer has working so well. Even with Giroux in the lineup, the Flyers appear to be going down.
STARTS AND STOPS: Not sure it was appropriate for Blues’ winger Chris Stewart to put his finger to his lips in a crowd-silencing gesture on his way to the box after a first period fight with Jordan Nolan. Not with his team down 3-0 in the series and the score tied 1-1 in Game 4, and not after a scrap that really wasn’t even terribly one-sided. Not surprised, either, that it was Kings leader Dustin Brown who responded with the go-ahead goal less than five minutes later .. The fans at Staples Center didn’t sound at all quiet. In fact, they gave the Kings one of the finest salutes of the post season as they stood and cheered their team through the final two minutes of the franchise’s first ever series sweep ... Why should you take playoff predictions with a grain of salt? The Kings, who finished 13th in the overall standings, needed just nine games to bounce the team that finished first and one that wound up tied for second.
BETWEEN PERIODS: The Devils tried to give Martin Broduer the night off for a 40th birthday present. Deep into the second period, they had limited the Flyers to just seven shots on goal. With protection like that, why would Brodeur even think of retirement? ... Remember when Brown was frequently mentioned in trade rumours earlier this season? He’s only one of the most significant players in the playoffs and, with two years left on a contract that pays him a salary of $3.175 million, one of the best bargains in the league ... If Nolan’s dad Ted watched his first playoff goal, it was from the other side of the ocean. The former Jack Adam Award winner is coaching Kaspars Daugavins and the rest of Latvia’s entry at the world championships ... Is it going to take winning the Cup to make Kings coach Darryl Sutter smile?
AND FINALLY: Much criticism and numerous jokes have been made about Dustin “Pancake” Penner, but don’t at all be surprised if Senators General Manager Bryan Murray shows interest in the 6-foot-4, 240-pound winger when he becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Penner, who had just seven goals and 10 assists in 65 games during the regular season, won’t get anywhere near the $4.25 million he has made in each of the last five years. But in 2004, it was Murray, then the GM in Anaheim, who signed Penner, a free agent from the University of Maine, to his first NHL contract. And in 2009, Murray had Penner included in a package he was getting for Dany Heatley, before the latter nixed the deal. Now 29, Penner made a couple of nice defensive plays and had an assist Sunday to give him seven points in the Kings’ nine playoff games. At the right price, he could be a decent catch ... If Rick Dudley does indeed get named the assistant GM for the Habs, he’d be the first person ever to hold management positions with three different Canadian teams. Okay, that’s just a guess. Safer to say the former Senators GM (1998-99) and current Leafs director of player personnel would be the first to hold management jobs with three different Canadian teams after finishing his playing career with the Winnipeg Jets.