NEW YORK – Claude Giroux got on the scoreboard in Game 5. He fired six shots on goal. For all intents and purposes it was his best game of the series – one which the Flyers now trail 3-2 and face a long summer if they can’t win both Tuesday and Wednesday.
As well as Giroux played though in a 4-2 loss to the New York Rangers, he still didn’t think it was enough.
“I have to play better,” he said. “I want to play better. It will happen. It’s Game 6 at Wells Fargo Center. Right now we’re a little down but we’re going to have to get jacked up again.”
Giroux knows how to amp himself up for a Game 6 at home. The last time it happened was the 2012 Penguins series. It was “the shift.” An opening salvo fired who he buried Sidney Crosby with a big check followed by a goal on the same shift – replete with his patented, “Let’s Go,” primal shout to the crowd.
He’s going to need to elevate his game to that level again against the Rangers who are hitting him every chance they can.
It’s been a sound strategy for New York – smother Giroux and let everyone else beat you. At times it’s worked. Game 5 it didn’t really.
Oh, they still hit Giroux – a lot. There was a slash across the hands on a 2-on-1. There was a cross check to the lower back. There were hits upon hits along the wall.
Giroux’s got to be feeling it physically. Him getting hit repeatedly is certainly as much of New York’s game plan as dropping to a knee to block shots and embellishing penalties.
But in Game 5, Giroux found some room. Not a lot of room – but enough to get noticed.
“You need to be able to adjust and create your own room out there,” Giroux said. “There was a minute left when I scored… it has to be better.”
He’s holding himself to a much higher standard. And he’s not alone.
“He was definitely more effective,” said coach Craig Berube. “He was moving the puck and he shot the puck more. He’s working but I still think he’s not where he needs to be, but he’ll get there.”
If he does get there, the time to do it is fast approaching. The window of opportunity for Giroux to take over a game – as he did so many times this season for the Flyers – is upon us.
He needs to be the best player on the ice starting Tuesday and not stopping until late Wednesday.
There are no more predictions – even though he’s two-for-two in that vein. There are no more words to describe it. Just actions. Just leading by example. Just playing his game.
“Every line needs to jump,” Giroux said. “We need to play a better team game. When we did we did a lot of good things but we didn’t do it for a full 60 minutes.
We’re a team with a lot of character. We’re a really passionate team and we’re going to have to bring that in Game 6.”
As they have since Day 1 of the Craig Berube era.
“We’ve had our backs against the wall pretty well all year fighting,” Berube said. “Fighting for the playoffs. Fighting for a lot of things. Our team will fight again in Game 6.”
And their captain wants to throw the first punch.
NOTES: Berube said Nick Grossmann (lower body injury) will not play in Game 6. He wouldn’t comment on any other possible lineup changes…. Hal Gill on the botched exchange between himself and Braydon Coburn that led to the third New York goal: “I tried to kick it up and I kicked it back. It’s one of those things where I have to make a play and I didn’t.” He went on to say, “In the playoffs you make a little mistake and it costs you. That’s what I like about it and sometimes that’s what sucks about it.” … Not that he had any impact on the game in favor of the Rangers (and rather had a negative impact with more penalties called and waving off a surefire goal with a quick whistle, but the Rangers have now won seven straight games refereed by Justin St. Pierre and are 10-1 in the last 11 he’s officiated.
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