The bigger the game, the bigger the Giroux

This article can be found published on Chicks Who Give a Puck.
Claude Giroux has become a force on the Philadelphia Flyers through their Stanley Cup playoffs run. (Getty Images)

Claude Giroux has become a force on the Philadelphia Flyers through their Stanley Cup playoffs run. (Getty Images)

It all began in 2006 when former Philadelphia Flyers GM Bobby Clarke took the podium to announce who the Flyers would be drafting with the 22nd pick in the NHL Entry Draft.

But there was a problem: Clarke forgot the 18-year-old’s name.

I can guarantee you he, or anyone else, won’t make that mistake anymore.

Claude Giroux has become a household name in Philadelphia since the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs.  In only six games played, he posted 5 points (2 goals, 3 assists), tying captain Mike Richards for most points on the team during their short playoff stint.

His true showing came in Game 3 with his unofficial Gordie Howe hat trick.  He started the game taking on Tyler Kennedy in a scrum after the play and getting the better of him.  He followed it up with an easy tap-in to a wide open net to break the 2-2 tie early in the second period.  And he still wasn’t done.  Just a few minutes later, while on the penalty kill, Giroux raced moseying Sergei Gonchar down the ice, lifted his stick, and stole the puck, playing keep-away behind the Penguins’ net before threading a pass across the crease to a waiting Simon Gagne who slammed it home for a shorthanded goal.

Did I mention that was his rookie season?

After a display of such skill, many Flyers fans were eagerly awaiting a breakout season from Giroux during the 2009-10 season.  But unfortunately, it was not to come.  Giroux still posted respectable numbers (16 goals, 31 assists, 47 points), but all the blame cannot be put on the young forward.  The highest point total for the team was only 62 by Richards.  Giroux ended the regular season fifth on the team in points.

No matter how mediocre any fan may think his regular season was, no one can deny how much his game elevates in pressure situations.

Giroux thrives in the big games.  The shifty little 5-11 winger (although he’s been playing center) frustrates opponents with his speed and skills.  He has an incredible gift when he has the puck and his vision on the ice shows the maturity of a seasoned-veteran.  Let me reiterate.  He’s just 22-years-old.

Game No. 82. Do or die for the Flyers to make it in the postseason.  It goes to the shootout.  Danny Briere scores for the Flyers, but so does PA Parenteau.  Head coach Peter Laviolette calls Giroux’s name as the third shooter and he comes flying down the neutral zone before hitting the breaks and shooting a laser past Henrik Lundqvist, giving the Flyers the 2-1 advantage.  We all know what happened next: Brian Boucher stops Olli Jokinen and sends the Flyers to the playoffs.

Through these 2010 playoffs, Giroux has shown what he is capable of.  Before Game 5 of the first-round against the Devils, Laviolette pulled Giroux aside and told him this was the time for him to step-up with the injuries to Gagne and Jeff Carter.

What did he do with this new responsibility?  He had a hand in every goal scored in the game, netting two goals and adding an assist in the Flyers’ 3-0 win, sending them into a second-round match-up against the Bruins.

Down 3-0 in the series and facing elimination in Game 4, Giroux once again rose to the occasion with a goal and an assist, keeping their playoff dreams alive for another night.

Through the third-round, Giroux kept up his pace.  Scoring 6 points (3 goals, 3 assists) against his favorite team growing up, he helped to push the Flyers passed the Canadiens into the Stanley Cup Finals.

In Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals, fighting against going down 3-0 again, the Flyers were determined to get a win at home.  With the power play winding down, Giroux was able to save what seemed to be a sure clear by the Blackhawks and help set up what would eventually be Briere’s goal.  He would also add an assist on Scott Hartnell’s goal.

But those assists seem small compared to what he did next.

The back-and-forth game went into a gut-wrenching overtime.  At 5:02 of the overtime session, Gagne appeared to have scored.  The horn sounded, the red light came on.  But no signal came from the referees.  The goal went under review and was ruled to have never crossed the goal line.  For any team, a goal of that magnitude being taken away could have deflated the players and could have cost all their momentum.

But not the Flyers.  Not Claude Giroux.

Just under a minute later, at 5:59, Giroux did it again.  Catching the Blackhawks in a change and creating a 4-on-3 opportunity, Briere passed the puck over to Matt Carle.  Carle, under no pressure from any ‘Hawk, sent the puck towards the net at an open Giroux, who deflected the puck under Antti Niemi for the overtime game-winning goal.

Only one sports player in Philadelphia can inspire a city to religiously eat grilled cheese sandwiches before every Flyers game. Giroux has captured the hearts of Flyers fans, and just like his team, he won’t go quietly.  Expect to hear his name more as the Flyers go deeper into the final round.

2009-2010 Regular Season
Giroux: 82 GP, 16-31-47, -9, 23 PIM, 8 PP, 0 SH, 2 GW
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals
Giroux: 5 GP, 4-2-6, +1, 4 PIM, 3 PP, 0 SH, 0 GW
Eastern Conference Semifinals
Giroux: 7 GP, 1-4-5, +2, 0 PIM, 0 PP, 0 SH, 0 GW
Eastern Conference Finals
Giroux: 5 GP, 3-3-6, +7, 0 PIM, 0 PP, 0 SH, 1 GW
Stanley Cup Finals
Giroux: 3 GP, 1-2-3, -1, 0 PIM, 0 PP, 0 SH, 1 GW

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Categories: Features, Ice Hockey, NHL, Sports

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