Claude Giroux FINALLY scores his first goal of season

Claude Giroux FINALLY scores his first goal of season

Well, it only took six weeks, but Flyers’ superstar Claude Giroux finally scored his first goal of the 2013-14 season.

Giroux wristed the puck past Edmonton goaltender Devan Dubnyk at 11 minutes, 26 seconds of the third period for the eventual game-winner in the Flyers’ 4-2 victory over the Oilers this past Saturday afternoon at the Wells Fargo Center.

Jay Rosehill – yes, that Jay Rosehill, - Scott Hartnell and Vinny Lecavalier also lit the lamp for the Flyers on Saturday but Giroux’s tally -- which, dating back to the tail end of last season, snapped a 21-game goalless drought for the Flyers’ captain -- is the goal that had the attention of Flyer fans after the game.

And rightfully so.

Before Saturday, the last time had scored a goal was on April 15th during a 7-3 win over the Canadiens in Montreal.

Sure, the Flyers have a plethora of issues that have hampered their offense, but it should come as no surprise that Flyers’ has offense sputtered as Giroux’s offensive game has sputtered.

Entering the game against Edmonton, the Flyers averaged a league-worst 1.47 goals per game. Despite the four goals they put up on the Oilers, the Flyers still average a league worst 1.62 goals, but they are creeping closer to getting out that basement as the Buffalo Sabres average just 1.63 goals per game.

But throw those facts aside now that the captain and the team’s best player and playmaker is on the board. Not only is he on the board, some of the pressure is off his back.

Giroux’s stick-in-the-air-glass-pounding celebration seemed to indicate just that. He also had quite a look of relief considering things had gotten so bad that Giroux admitted to Steve Coates in a postgame interview that fans would come up to him in the supermarket and get on him about finally scoring a goal.

Let the man grocery shop in peace now, please.

Now that he’s off the schnide, he can get back to being, you know, Claude Giroux. And the Flyers need him to be, you know, Claude Giroux, because the team has the look of one that pretty much goes as Giroux goes due to the lack of secondary scoring or any scoring, so far.

The fact that Giroux finally scored shouldn’t be the only reason for encouragement. It’s the way he scored that should have fans excited.

Giroux took control of a loose puck in his defensive zone, skated down the near wing, cut to the middle of the ice, used the defenseman’s positioning to his advantage as a screen and whistled puck past Dubnyk from the mid-slot area.

The goal wasn’t set up on a tee for Giroux nor was Giroux the beneficiary of a lucky bounce or bad goaltender positioning, not that he of Flyer fans wouldn’t have gladly taken those scenarios. He created the goal on his own.

Sure, the goal was scored during 4-on-4 play when there was a little more open space on the ice, but the point here is that he created that goal with his skill. He took what the defense gave him and didn’t try to do too much or make a bad decision.

He used his skill to create offense, which is something most of the Flyers’ more-skilled players, Giroux included, hasn’t really done this season.

And it’s exactly what Giroux needs to keep doing. He needs to have the puck on his stick. He needs to continue to be more selfish and make plays and shoot, just like he did on Saturday.

I get Edmonton isn’t a very good team, especially defensively, but Giroux seemed to be all over the ice on Saturday and seemed to have shot the puck more.

He finished the contest with four shots on net, his second-most shots on goal so far this season and equal to his output the previous two games combined. He had very good chances through out the game, too.

In the second period, Giroux cut in as the trailer on a rush and had a wide-open lane to Dubnyk, who robbed him with a great save on a backhander. During the ensuing net-front scramble, Giroux found the puck on his stick with what looked like a open net, but had his shot knocked down in the crease by sliding Oilers’ forward Ryan Smyth in desperation.

Shortly before Giroux scored, Jake Voracek found him with a cross-ice pass at the bottom of the faceoff dot but Giroux ripped a one-timer wide.

But at least he was shooting.

Prior to Saturday, Giroux had registered just one shot on goal in six of Philadelphia’s 15 games. That’s not good enough for a struggling team’s best offensive player.

I’m not saying it will be, but if this team turns it around, Giroux’s play on Saturday against the Oilers could be looked upon as a turning point because Giroux was slightly-more selfish, began to take matters into his own hands and finally found some confidence.

A confident, more-selfish Giroux is a dangerous Giroux. And a dangerous Giroux is exactly what the Flyers need.

More MLB Notes: First baseman James Loney traded from Padres to Mets

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USA Today Images

More MLB Notes: First baseman James Loney traded from Padres to Mets

NEW YORK -- The Mets have found help at first base following Lucas Duda's injury, acquiring veteran James Loney from the San Diego Padres for cash.

Loney has spent this season in the minors, playing well for Triple-A El Paso. He was batting .342 with two home runs and 28 RBIs over 43 games in the Pacific Coast League.

Always a fine fielder, the 32-year-old Loney hit .280 with four homers, 16 doubles and 32 RBIs in 104 games with Tampa Bay last year. The Rays released him April 3 and he signed with the Padres on April 8.

Duda was put on the disabled list Monday with a stress fracture in his lower back that is expected to sideline him at least four to six weeks, probably longer.

Until Duda returns, Mets manager Terry Collins says Loney, a left-handed hitter, will mostly face right-handed pitching in a first-base platoon with Wilmer Flores and Eric Campbell. Flores is close to returning from a strained hamstring.

Royals: Catcher Perez hurt, helped from field
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez had to be helped off the field in the ninth inning Saturday against the Chicago White Sox after colliding with rookie third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert while catching Adam Eaton's foul popup.

Cuthbert came sliding in and struck Perez's lower legs. Perez went down in pain as trainer Nick Kenney and manager Ned Yost rushed to the field.

Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas and left fielder Alex Gordon collided Sunday while chasing a foul ball at Chicago and both landed on the disabled list. Gordon has a broken right wrist and is out for three to four weeks, while Moustakas tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee and is likely out for the season.

Drew Butera replaced Perez.

Cardinals: Matt Carpenter activated from paternity list
WASHINGTON -- Third baseman Matt Carpenter has been activated from the paternity list by the St. Louis Cardinals.

Carpenter missed two games after being placed on the paternity list Thursday. His wife gave birth to the couple's first child, a girl, on Wednesday.

Carpenter leads the Cardinals with nine home runs and 32 RBIs.

To make room for Carpenter on the 25-man roster, St. Louis designated infielder Ruben Tejada for assignment on Saturday. Tejada was batting .176 over 23 games with no homers and three RBIs.

If Tejada is released, St. Louis would be responsible for the remainder of his $1.5 million salary this year, which was $1,049,180 entering Saturday.

Instant Replay: Cubs 4, Phillies 1

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The Associated Press

Instant Replay: Cubs 4, Phillies 1

BOX SCORE

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs continue to dominate the Phillies with extra-base hits and terrific starting pitching.
 
They beat the Phils for the second day in a row Saturday. The final score at Wrigley Field was 4-1. Right-hander Kyle Hendricks went the distance for the win. The Phils scored in the ninth inning to avoid a shutout.
 
The Phils have been held to two or fewer runs 18 times and one or fewer 11 times. They are averaging just 3.22 runs per game.
 
The Cubs, who lead the majors with 33 wins, have stroked nine extra-base hits in the first two games of the series and four of them have been homers. The Phils have just three extra-base hits, all doubles. One was a misplay by the Cubs’ outfield.
 
The Phillies are 1-4 on this six-game road trip, which started in Detroit.
 
The Phils have lost six of their last eight games and are now just three games over .500 at 26-23.
 
Starting pitching report
Eickhoff was not nearly as efficient as he was in his previous start when he threw just 85 pitches in seven innings in a 5-0 win over Atlanta. This time, Eickhoff threw a season-high 109 pitches over six innings. He gave up eight hits, four for extra bases and four runs. He walked one and struck out seven.
 
Eickhoff was tagged for three extra-bases hits in the first inning, a home run and two doubles. For the season, Eickhoff is 2-7 with a 4.07 ERA.
 
Hendricks held the Phillies to five hits, three of which were singles. He was not overpowering, but his command was exceptional. He did not walk a batter and struck out seven while throwing just 104 pitches.
 
Jon Lester held the Phillies to one earned run in 6⅓ innings Friday.
 
Bullpen report
The Cubs didn’t need one. Andrew Bailey and Elvis Araujo pitched scoreless ball for the Phillies.
 
At the plate
The Phillies had just five hits. Ryan Howard returned to the starting lineup and went 0 for 4 to drop to .154.
 
The Cubs, who hit three home runs Friday, got their power game going early as Dexter Fowler led off the bottom of the first inning with a solo homer against Eickhoff. Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist both doubled in the inning as the Cubs went up 2-0 in the first. Heyward doubled home a run in the second inning.
 
Up next
The Phillies and Cubs close out the series Sunday afternoon. Vince Velasquez (5-1, 2.75) pitches for the Phillies against right-hander John Lackey (4-2, 3.83).
 
The Phillies return home Monday night to open a 10-game homestand that will see Washington, Milwaukee and the Cubs comes to town.

Police: Pelicans guard Bryce Dejean-Jones shot and killed in Dallas

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USA Today Images

Police: Pelicans guard Bryce Dejean-Jones shot and killed in Dallas

DALLAS -- New Orleans Pelicans rookie Bryce Dejean-Jones was fatally shot after breaking down the door to a Dallas apartment, authorities said Saturday.

Officers were called early Saturday and found the 23-year-old player collapsed in an outdoor passageway, Senior Cpl. DeMarquis Black said in a statement. Dejean-Jones was taken to a hospital where he died.

A person living at the apartment was sleeping when he heard his front door kicked open, Black said. The man retrieved a handgun and fired when Dejean-Jones began kicking the bedroom door.

Dejean-Jones was from Los Angeles and it wasn't immediately clear why he was in Dallas.

"We are devastated at the loss of this young man's life (and) who had such a promising future ahead of him," the Pelicans said in a statement.

In his only NBA season, which ended in February because of a broken right wrist, the 6-foot-6 guard started 11 of 14 games and averaged 5.6 points and 3.4 rebounds.

He was part of the 2014-15 Iowa State team that went 25-9, captured a Big 12 title and made a fourth consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament. He was fourth on the team in scoring, averaging 10.5 points in 33 games. He shot a career-best 47.6 percent in his lone season as a Cyclone. He also played at Southern California and UNLV.

"This is a very, very sad and tragic day for everyone that's a part of the Cyclone basketball family," Iowa State coach Steve Prohm said.

Former Cyclones coach Fred Hoiberg added in a statement that Dejean-Jones was a "passionate and talented player that lived out his dream of playing in the NBA through hard work and perseverance."