Feel free to exhale Flyers' fans. It's going to take more than a sore shoulder to keep forward Claude Giroux
from missing Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals (8 p.m. ET, VERSUS, TSN, NESN).
And that's a good thing considering Giroux, who skated Wednesday morning at Wachovia Center and looked sharp, is tied for the team lead with 5 goals in 10 postseason games this spring.
The Flyers trail the Boston Bruins
in this best-of-seven series, 3-2, but have staved off elimination two-straight times and are looking to make it a third in front of what is sure to be an electrifying atmosphere.
Giroux didn't do much shooting during practice, however, which begs the question, is he 100 percent?
"I felt good ... I'm good," Giroux said. "I want to help the team win and it's going to be a big (Wednesday). It's probably one of the biggest of the year. We have to make sure we're focused and ready to go."
Giroux was injured with three minutes remaining in the second period of Game 5 when he was boarded by Boston's Steve Begin
in the left-wing corner. He left the game and did not return.
"We've been playing well the last three games and just have to take that mentality of one game at a time; making sure we're ready to go," Giroux said. "They're going to show up for sure, so hopefully we'll get a little boost from our fans -- we're all excited."
Flyers wing Simon Gagne
knows the impact Giroux has made this postseason and is glad he'll be in the lineup.
"It's big," Gagne said. "I talked to Claude (Tuesday) and he felt very good and he's very good today, so he's good to go. He's been one of our best players in the playoffs so having him in the lineup is going to be good. We're glad that he's OK."
In Monday's Game 5 victory in Boston, coach Peter Laviolette
had Giroux centering James van Riemsdyk
and Arron Asham
. That line should remain intact.
The biggest change to the lineup will be in goal as Michael Leighton
replaces injured Brian Boucher
(Grade 2 MCL sprain in left knee). It will mark Leighton's first career playoff start. The sixth-year goalie made 14 saves after Boucher went down with his knee injury early in the second period of Game 5.
Prior to missing the last 22 games with a high ankle sprain, Leighton went 8-2-1 in his last 13 starts, posting a 2.75 goals-against average and .911 save percentage. He also went unbeaten in regulation in his first 10 starts (8-0-1) with the Flyers after Philadelphia General Manager Paul Holmgren
acquired him on re-entry waivers from Carolina on Dec. 15.
"Michael has been very good for us all year," Gagne said. "Let's go back a few months ago. We're almost dead, last in the conference. Michael came in and went on a winning streak and we were able to get back in the playoffs. To me, he's a very good surprise for us and almost think, for me, our MVP this year because of what he did."
Laviolette knows Leighton is charged up to make his first playoff start.
"With everything that's gone on, he probably never would have imagined this (scenario) in his wildest dreams," Laviolette said. "The fact he would end up going through waivers, get picked up and then have, what looked to be, a season ending injury to being able to get an opportunity after Brian (Boucher) had played so well for us. There's no way he, or anyone for that matter, could have predicted his season and the chain of events that might happen. I would think he's thrilled to be in the position that he is right now; to get an opportunity to start (Wednesday) halfway through the playoffs."
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale