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.

Agholor, Huff and Green-Beckham avoiding Eagles' trade rumors

Agholor, Huff and Green-Beckham avoiding Eagles' trade rumors

While head coach Doug Pederson denied reports the Eagles have inquired about the availability of veteran wide receivers Wednesday (see story), it's fair to wonder how those rumors affect the psyche of the guys who are already here. True or not, there's a reason why stories about trades are believable.

The Eagles' current crop of receivers hasn't been very impactful, particularly Nelson Agholor, Josh Huff and Dorial Green-Beckham. Yet despite disappointing numbers, constant questions about their lack of production and now rumblings somebody like Torrey Smith or Alshon Jeffery could be coming to take their jobs, the young trio doesn't sound too worried.

"We all have a job to do here, and if you're worried about somebody else, you're going to lose sight of your own job," Agholor said. "Just like anybody else in any workplace, you need to focus on yourself and execute your job."

"That has nothing to do with me," Huff said. "As long as I'm confident in the way I do my job, everything else will speak for itself."

"It's something I'm completely not worried out," Green-Beckham added. "I'm really just focusing on myself and whatever happens, happens."

Not only do the Eagles' wideouts sound genuinely unconcerned by trade rumors, they almost seem to welcome the competition.

"It motivates you, especially if you're still around," Agholor said. "Or if you get sent somewhere else, you understand that you have to wake up. You have to wake up and you have to make plays."

"I'm a competitor," Huff said. "I'm not going to say no to a competition, but if they do want a veteran receiver, so be it. It doesn't bother us."

It's certainly the right attitude to have, maybe even the only one. Still, trade rumors — whether rumors are all they are or not — is a clear indictment of this group's performance this season.

Jordan Matthews has been OK, but far from a prolific No. 1 receiver who makes up for a lack of complementary weapons. The third-year player is currently on pace to finish 2016 with 67 receptions for 944 yards and five touchdowns, all of which would be down from his previous season's totals.

Agholor is second on the team with 18 receptions for 191 yards, Huff has 12 catches for 63 yards and Green-Beckham has 13 for 139. All three have found the end zone once as well.

What's troubling about those numbers is that not only the lack of production, but the lack of plays they've made down the field. Agholor and Green-Beckham are both under less than 11 yards per reception, while Huff is averaging a paltry 5.3.

It's no wonder the Eagles' front office would show interest in deep threats like Smith and Jeffery, both of whom are proven capable of stretching the field.

"I just work every day and try to get separation to the best of my ability," Agholor said. "I have a great receivers coach that tries to help me with my releases and fine tune that, but the most important thing I feel like with creating separation is a mindset, because this is a league, where it's good on good every day."

"It's just what the coaches see, what the coaches want from us," Huff said. "Obviously, would I want to get the ball downfield? Yes. Has it gone that way? No, but my job is to continue to get better each and every day, and once my number is called, I'll be ready to make that play."

Pederson, who earlier denied the Eagles were looking into trades, defended the big-play ability of his wideouts.

"Nelson can stretch it," Pederson said. "Josh can stretch it. But I think it's protection and design of the play. When I think of stretching the field, I mean, a guy can run fast and that can be stretching the field, but who can really take the top off?

"Those two guys are two that can do that."

Agholor, the Eagles' first-round pick in 2015, has faced these kinds of questions since his underwhelming rookie season. He's getting used to people doubting his ability, but that's not stopping him from keeping a positive attitude.

"I think the most important thing is to progress each day, and have a next-play mentality too," Agholor said. "Some of the greatest players in this league, they drop balls, I'm sure guys have probably jammed them before, however it goes, but the best thing they can do is just bounce back, line up again and win the next matchup.

"I want to continue to have that mindset and allow it to speak for itself so I don't have to sit here and tell. If every time you're all asking me that, it must mean you all don't see that."

Green-Beckham has a little bit more of a unique perspective on this matter than Agholor and Huff. While the second-year receiver is staying positive and motivated as well, he's been on the other end of these rumors and was ultimately traded from the Titans to the Eagles back in August.

Because he's only been with the team for a couple of months, Green-Beckham didn't seem too worried he's running out of opportunities with the Eagles.

"I just got here, so I don't think I'm going to end up leaving when I just got here," Green-Beckham said. "For some guys, you really have to worry about that, and you just have to focus on trying to compete, trying to get better and better each and every day and doing the little things."

Green-Beckham also knows better than anyone how such a trade would increase expectations on the players already inside the locker room, and he had a message for his teammates.

"I just know how it feels for guys who come in as traded, and for guys who've been here, you just have to understand you're going to have to compete when stuff like that happens," Green-Beckham said. "It makes your job a lot hard, but you just have to focus more.

"It's a business. Like they say, the NFL stands for not for long, so you always have that in your thoughts, and know every opportunity, you have to take advantage of it."

Joel Embiid the gold standard by wearing gold shoes to NBA debut

Joel Embiid the gold standard by wearing gold shoes to NBA debut

For the better part of two years, most of Sixers fans' worries focused on Joel Embiid's foot.

Before his first NBA game on Tuesday night against the Thunder, Embiid made sure his very large feet were still the center of attention.

Embiid walked into the Wells Fargo Center sporting a flashy pair of gold shoes.

Hopefully he has a pair of matching basketball sneakers for tonight's game.

Also, this is cool: