Claude Giroux's Performance Was Legendary

Claude Giroux's Performance Was Legendary

There's nothing like getting unexpected tickets to the big game at the last minute. The best seats I've ever had for an important Philadelphia sporting event happened to be for the legendary 4th and 26 game the Eagles played against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC playoffs. My dad's ticketing guy called him a couple of hours before kickoff and said he had some seats for us. They turned out being in the first row at about the 48-yard line behind the Eagles bench. Sick.

The thing I remember most vividly about that day is watching Brian Dawkins pace up and down the sidelines before the game with the look of a killer in his eyes. Then, during the game, he'd be screaming and trying to pump up the crowd like the most maniacal cheerleader ever. B-Dawk was a special player and it's a memory I'll never forget. It was also one of the major factors in my wanting to start a web site that talked about sports from a fan's point of view. And the first post ever on this site in 2004.

This past Saturday my uncle informed my dad that he couldn't use his tickets for yesterday's huge Game 6 between the Flyers and Penguins at the Wells Fargo Center.

We were in the fourth row from the glass on the side the Flyers warm up in and you bet your ass we got there early to watch the orange and black go through their pregame routine.

Jaromir Jagr's beard looked gentlemanly from such close proximity. Danny Briere was doing some sick stick work in one corner. And at one point during warmup drills, it appeared as if Scott Hartnell was interacting with a fan near the glass, causing him to be a second late to make a pass, so Giroux screamed at him. He was dripping intensity.

The thing I'll remember most from this game was the look on Claude Giroux's face before, during, and after the Flyers amazing 5-1 victory over the Penguins. During warm ups, Giroux went around sticking a shoulder into every one of his teammates to fire them up.

Now remember, the Flyers had dropped two-straight games to the Penguins, including a complete ass-whooping. There was plenty of uncertainty coming into Game 6 in Philly.

But Giroux didn't seem to have an ounce of doubt nor a moment's hesitation once the puck dropped.

The first minute of play from Giroux is the stuff Philly sports legends are made of: win the opening faceoff, rock Sidney Crosby's world with a beautiful check five seconds later, and then rip a perfect sniping wrister top shelf to put the Flyers up 1-0 and set the tone for the decisive day. It was beautiful.

But Claude's reaction from that point was just as badass. There was fire in his eyes and he pumped both his teammates and the 20,000 rabid fans in South Philly up like only the best athlete in this town can.

Peter Laviolette must have been proud of the way G put his foot on the f*cking gas.

It's one thing when a scrappy guy like Scott Hartnell wants to get the Wells Fargo Center lunatics rocking, it's another when the most skilled player in the game does the same. It can only be described as absolutely badass.

Then, following the game, we learn that Giroux told Peter Laviolette prior to the game that he wanted the opening shift. He wanted Crosby.

It just kept getting better.

Claude Giroux was already immensely beloved among the Flyers faithful, but Sunday may have elevated him to the stuff of legend.

Here's what Matt said before the game, "Time for Claude Giroux to take the series back. Youth has served this team well, but they need a closer right now. They need a captain, and it's G."

Mission f*cking accomplished.

What a day from an amazing player.

And what a memory for those that were there. 12 more Knock Knocks.

As Eagles enter bye, Doug Pederson aims to thwart complacency

As Eagles enter bye, Doug Pederson aims to thwart complacency

The Eagles are 3-0. They’re alone atop the NFC East and have been the biggest surprise of the young NFL season.

Doug Pederson’s message to his team: You haven’t done anything yet.

Although the Eagles are riding high, Pederson doesn’t want his team to change its outlook or hard work. That’s what teams have to worry about once they’ve found some success.

“The biggest thing is complacency,” Pederson said Monday. “You think you've arrived. You think you are all that. When that creeps in, that's when you get beat. It's my job not to let that creep in. I've got to keep the guys focused and grounded. I told them this week they're going to travel and go home and people are going to pat them on the back and say how great they are.

“But next Monday, I'm going to tell them, ‘Hey, we're back to work. We're 0-0. This is Game 1 and let's go.’ That's just the way it has to be. You are building for one ultimate goal and that's a few weeks down the road. That's what you are trying to get to. But you can't get there unless you take care of the next opponent. It's my job to keep them focused that way.”

Being 3-0 (they’re one of five 3-0 teams) gives the Eagles a head start, but it certainly doesn’t guarantee them a playoff spot. This is the ninth 3-0 start in franchise history. They’ve made the playoffs just five times in the previous eight. And they recently missed the playoffs after starting 3-0 in 2014 under Chip Kelly.

In NFL history (before this season), there have been 276 teams to start with 3-0 records. Of them, 200 (72.3 percent) have made the playoffs.

“We just have to approach it the same, one day at a time,” Pederson said. “That's the way this business goes. You are on top of the world one minute, and you can be at the bottom of the heap the next. Just got to keep things even-keeled and can't get too high, can't get too low. Approach it the same. Like I mentioned earlier, you can't substitute for hard work. That pays off on Sundays. We just have to stay the course. Again, a lot of football left.”

While the Week 4 bye comes pretty early, the Eagles have a couple key players who will use the time to get healthy. And Connor Barwin pointed out that the bye is coming about closer to the halfway point between when the team started its tough training camp and the end of the season.

Pederson told his players to use the week to get away from football and free their minds. Meanwhile, Pederson and his coaches will use the extra time to self-scout and prepare for the final 13 games of the regular season.

With a first-year head coach and a rookie quarterback who was thrust into action a week before the opener, expectations outside (and perhaps inside) the building were tempered.

The Eagles aren’t an underdog anymore.

“We kind of enjoyed flying under the radar, but obviously a win like this against a team like the Steelers will open some eyes around the league,” Malcolm Jenkins said. “For us, nothing different. We’ll keep our preparation the same. We’ll stick our heads down and focus on the work day to day and understand what’s gotten us to 3-0.”

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Ivan Provorov displays durability, versatility in Flyers' preseason loss

Ivan Provorov displays durability, versatility in Flyers' preseason loss

BOX SCORE

NEWARK, N.J. — How much of a horse is Flyers defensive prospect Ivan Provorov?

Well, consider this:

The 19-year-old logged a game-high 28:48 of ice time Monday night during the Flyers' 2-0 split-squad loss to the Devils in which he also quarterbacked the first-unit power play (8:03) and had the most penalty kill time (3:58) (see story).

“I thought I played well,” Provorov said. “It took me a few shifts to get into the game. I competed as hard as I could.”

He said he was used to playing more than 25 minutes in Brandon (WHL), anyway.

“Of course, this is a better league, high pace and it will take a few games to adjust,” Provorov said.

Because the Flyers have yet to work on power play, the results aren’t there. They were 0 for 7 in the game.

“We haven’t done anything on the ice, but have done some video on the PK on the board but nothing on the power play,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “There’s other priorities now with so many players (64) in camp.”

Provorov worked both points on the power play and had just one official shot in the game.

“We didn’t get to do much power play [in camp],” he said. “It will get better as the preseason goes on.”

Rookie forward Travis Konecny worked the low slot on the top power play. He logged 18:34 of ice time, including 6:01 PP time. Konecny had two shots in the game.

He was on Andy Miele’s line with Scott Laughton. Konency had the only shots on his line.

Hakstol said Konecny and Provorov each “settled in” as the game went on. Hakstol isn’t sure if one or both will play Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center against the Islanders.

Konecny’s body language in camp exudes confidence unlike a year ago when he was skittish in his first-ever Flyers training camp. Now he sits back, takes it all in and has that look on his face of been there, done that.

In fact, he was trying to calm down some of his buddies, Anthony Salinitri and Connor Bunnaman, who were seeing the lights before the game.

“Me and [Ivan] Provorov were just talking,” he said. “We feel a lot more comfortable this year.

“I’ve been in this position here. I have my guys Salinitri and Bunnaman, we all hang out together and it’s their first year.

“They’re excited for their first preseason game just like I was last year, but I’m not thinking, ‘Wow, it’s an NHL arena.’ I’m thinking about the game and getting ready to play.”

Konecny was impressive last fall as an 18-year-old and Hakstol said he takes everything into account with more emphasis on the now than the past.

“Your body of work includes your season last year,” Hakstol  said. “Includes everything. The most important information is what you do right now. No question in my mind. I take everything into account.”

Take this into account: Alex Lyon is going to be a contender with Anthony Stolarz for the starting job in goal with the Phantoms this season. He was outstanding with 28 saves on 29 shots.

“They spent some time in our zone and had their big guns out there,” Lyon said of being under siege for two-thirds of the game. “They had a few shots but we did a good job keeping them to the outside. No super grade A opportunities.”

Lyon stopped two breakaways by Beau Bennett, one within three minutes of play.

“I felt like a newborn deer and could barely stand up,” quipped the former Yale goalie. “I was so nervous. It felt good to stop the first one.”