As they have been so many times this dramatic season, the Flyers once again find their backs to the wall. After the Rangers stumped coach Craig Berube and the Flyers Sunday, the series shifts to Philadelphia for a Wells Fargo judgement day. With the series tilted a 3-2, the Flyers will need all engines ready to rise above New York. Will their main power source spark them past the Rangers?
“Game six is going to be huge, obviously. We’ve come back all season long when it matters,” Claude Giroux stated, still fighting the after-affects of the game five defeat. The captain shared similar thoughts to those he had following a 4-1 game three loss, when he boldly announced that the team would tie the series Friday night. The squad responded with a gritty effort, parking the bus in front of returning goaltender Steve Mason. Mason seemingly fell off his high horse in game five, letting a mediocre chance in off the stick of John Moore. Does Philadelphia have enough jet fuel in the tank to overcome yet another setup climb?
In so-called pressure situations this season, Claude Giroux has earned the praise of any hockey statistician. Following the team’s 1-7-1 start, Giroux declared that the team would “make the playoffs,” and recover from the deep hole. The center himself had a fine remainder of the season, finishing in the top three in goals and points after the first few weeks. Giroux’s regular season performance lauded him MVP consideration; however, his most notable performances came late in the season, with his team trying to make a final push.
During the team’s “#Clutchtime” stretch against the Penguins, Blackhawks, Stars, and Blues, Giroux encumbered the offensive burden the way a captain should. The Ontario-born forward notched two assists in each of the team’s two games against the Penguins. In an epic classic two days later, Giroux created the game-tying goal with a primary assist, bringing the Flyers back from a two-goal defect. The captain then unleashed a lethal wrist shot from the top of the right circle, and beat Corey Crawford off his crossbar to win the game in overtime, less than ten seconds away from a risky shootout.
Giroux followed with a valiant performance against Dallas, assisting on the opening goal and flashing all over the ice. Giroux recorded two shots on goal and three blocked shots in the game, helping the team hold the stars to two goals. He then added two more assists as a product of his distributor role in the rout of the Blues, sending the Flyers on their way to the postseason.
Giroux seems to find a way to create scoring chances for his team in key moments. Flyers forwards have certainly followed their captains leaf when the going gets tough. Tuesday night offers another such challenge, with no way around their nemeses in a do or die battle. If Giroux creates scoring opportunities, his team will put them in the net. It is once again up to Captain Claude to get his team flying again.