Chuck Fletcher makes another trade for Flyers – NBCSports.com
Assistant coach Kris Knoblauch went to Claude Giroux and proposed a power-play adjustment.
It required Giroux vacating his usual left circle, where the captain has blasted away for a long time, as lethal as anyone in the game from that spot on the man advantage.
Shifting the right-handed Giroux to the opposite circle, an area not as favorable for his shot, had the premise of augmenting the lefty-shot James van Riemsdyk, who could do greater damage around the net taking right-wall feeds from the captain.
Giroux was receptive.
“Knobber had a conversation with G and got his thoughts on it,” Flyers interim head coach Scott Gordon said Tuesday following practice. “It certainly plays to the strengths of JVR, who obviously had a ton of points on the power play in his time in Toronto and maybe that is something we can take advantage of.
“Obviously if the power play is going at 20 percent plus and we’re scoring a power-play goal a game, you’re not having the conversation. But credit to Claude for being open-minded to consider it and give it a go.”
The first game Giroux and company gave it a go, van Riemsdyk scored a power-play goal and finished with a hat trick as the Flyers rallied resoundingly from a 2-0 deficit to pick up a 7-4 win Monday over the Wild.
A game later, the Flyers found themselves in another 2-0 hole. And another comeback was ignited, this time by a marvelous dish from Giroux, once again making his teammates better. Notching his 500th career assist, the 31-year-old stopped on a dime to recover a loose puck and zip a pass in the opposite direction, finding a streaking Oskar Lindblom.
Lindblom gets the goal, and Giroux gets his 500th career assist!
Yeah, he’s pretty good. pic.twitter.com/okZEbyxxXm
— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) January 17, 2019
Suddenly, a play no other Flyer can make had everyone revived. Confidence was restored and fruited into a 4-3 win over the Bruins, giving the Flyers consecutive victories for just the second time since mid-November.
“I’ve been lucky to play with really good players and I’m lucky to be able to give the puck to all these players,” Giroux said. “It’s a great accomplishment but we just have to keep going here.”
Much of those wins are a product of Giroux’s unselfishness, an underrated part to his building (and debated) legacy.
If Giroux shies away from Knoblauch’s suggestion, acts like his power-play prowess is infallible, van Riemsdyk might not go off for a much-needed lift.
If Giroux doesn’t make a play out of nothing for Lindblom, a comeback might not happen against a Bruins team that will be making noise in the playoffs.
If Giroux doesn’t switch positions at 30 years old last season, Sean Couturier might not have his anticipated breakout the organization had been hoping for since the 2011 draft.
“His intensity, he’s ready to go every other shift,” Gordon said of Giroux. “He wants to play a lot, he does play a lot, he’s not an easy guy to keep off the ice in practice when it’s probably best for him not to go on the ice. He’s very passionate about being a Flyer.
First person on the ice today: Claude Giroux. pic.twitter.com/oVGJyoIJFX
— Jordan Hall (@JHallNBCS) January 14, 2019
“I haven’t felt that he’s taken a shift off the entire time that I’ve been here. Anything that even resembled it might have been more fatigue than anything else, not because of a mental decision to say, ‘You know what, I don’t feel like playing hard this year.'”
That would be selfishness. You won’t find it from Giroux, even in a season like this.
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