Excitement over the Flyers' fifth straight win is tempered with the knowledge that Claude Giroux left the game in the second period after a collision saw Wayne Simmonds' knee hit Giroux in the head. Giroux was low on the ice after a checking attempt, and Simmonds tried to avoid him by jumping over him, but his knee hit Giroux's helmet pretty hard.
Giroux would leave the game and go up the tunnel, and he didn't return. On Friday, the Flyers announced that Chris Pronger was out indefinitely with concussion-like symptoms, and Brayden Schenn's previously described upper body injury was updated to be a concussion as well. After Sidney Crosby missed nearly a year with concussion-related symptoms (and is once again being held out as a precaution), nothing could be scarier than a player having a possible concussion.
At least for now, Paul Holmgren is saying Giroux's removal from the game was a precaution. He will be evaluated again tomorrow morning and did not go to the hospital. We're not going to get too much further into what-if's until we're given a reason to.
llya Bryzgalov also left the game, departing during a stoppage in the third period. He went halfway up the tunnel, but returned the bench not long after. After the game, he coyly indicated that it was "an old boo-boo," and seemingly nothing to worry about. Sergei Bobrovsky finished the game for him, preserving the 4-2 lead he inherited before Scott Hartnell netted an empty netter. It's a least a good sign that Bryzgalov never took off the equipment and skated with the team to celebrate the win.
Video of the collision and more on the game below.
The question heading into the game was whether the Lightning and Flyers would once again play a trap vs. stall showdown. Tampa didn't stick strictly to the 1-3-1, and did send forecheckers more than we saw in last game. It may have had something to do with the fact that they just seemed to have the puck more overall in the period. They came out firing and controlled the tempo through most of the first period. Ryan Shannon opened the scoring, converting on a nice feed from Dominic Moore.
Although the home side looked pretty sluggish while chasing the Lightning through the first 20 minutes, a one-goal deficit was hardly much to worry about after seeing the Flyers win a pair of comeback efforts in recent games.
This is a Flyers team that appears seasoned beyond its years, with players young and old keeping their heads in the game even when they concede early leads and aren't playing good hockey. When the second period began, so did the game for Philadelphia. The Flyers scored three straight in the frame, with Danny Briere, Jaromir Jagr, and Wayne Simmonds all lighting the lamp.
Vincent Lecavalier scored on a power play less than a minute into the third period, but the momentum didn't tip any further to Tampa's advantage. Matt Carle deposited a great pass from Danny Briere just four minutes later to put the Flyers back up by a pair.
Hartnell scored a well-deserved empty netter in the final minute of the game, extending his goal scoring streak to five contests.
We still don't know the extent of Giroux's injury, but it was encouraging to see the rest of the team hold up so strongly in the third period. Even after last season's very deep team was blown up, they're at least as deep right now as they were then. That's not to say losing Giroux for any amount of time wouldn't be disruptive...
Giroux had a pair of assists, including a sweet drop pass to Jagr. Simmonds is heating up, getting increasingly very comfortable around the opposing crease. His goal was a little dirty in that it went in off a deflection and total change of direction, but Simmonds is making things happen down low on a regular basis lately. His goal came off a play very much like an attempt he made against the Penguins, spinning down low and trying to send a blind pass to Jakub Voracek.
Simmonds was also very active with the stick. Briere's goal came off a great strip by Simmer, as well as a nice pass.
Jagr had an amazing overall game, and his goal tied him with Brendan Shanahan for 11th all time in NHL goals with 656.
Sean Couturier took Giroux's spot between Jagr and Hartnell in the third period, a welcomed site for fans wanting to see the star rookie play in an offensive role (although no one would have it be for this reason). Cooter nearly scored twice, both off of great feeds from Jagr.
Once again, the defense was pretty solid. Marc-Andre Bourdon and Kevin Marshall played well, and Kimmo Timonen continued to build on an excellent season. He did have a goal pass through his wickets before beating a screened Bryzgalov though…
Tonight's great soundbite came from Bryzgalov, who, when pressed by Tim Panaccio as to why he didn't return to the ice on a stoppage if it was only an equipment issue, as Bryz had indicated, gave up and just said, "I'm a bad liar," drawing laughs from the room. We're just glad his status can literally be called a laughing matter.
We'll keep you posted if any injury updates are made, but it sounds like we've heard all there is to say for tonight.