Marginalized for much of the series after gaining the world stage against the Penguins, Claude Giroux was clearly agitated and playing with an edge in game 4 against the Devils. Unfortunately, it wasn't always the helpful brand of agitation.
Although G scored on a shorthanded opportunity in the first period, he was upset over the lack of a slashing call on the play, and rightfully so. Marek Zidlicky made contact several times with Giroux's gloves/midsection, yet the arm didn't go up. We'll take the goal, but considering the Flyers were killing a penalty, getting a call back would have been key.
With the Devils power play still alive, Zidlicky scored the tying goal.
In the second period, G lost his cool in a big way, taking out his frustrations on another missed call. After he felt Martin Brodeur played the puck outside of the trapezoid, G called for a penalty but didn't get one. Seemingly incensed, he skated up the ice and zeroed in on the next possible target. After Dainius Zubrus pushed the puck forward in the Flyers' zone, Giroux hit him hard, with contact to the head.
Despite Zubrus having a clear size advantage (listed at 6'5 to Giroux's 5'11) and Giroux not leaving the ice with his skates, meaning Zubrus' head was lowered considerably, G's shoulder did meet Zubrus' head.
Accordingly, he was assessed a 2-minute penalty for contact to the head.
Almost as immediate, the discussion as to whether Giroux could or would be suspended began. We say no. He'll have his clear anger working against him though.
Not that it would or should be a factor, but Zubrus also happens to wear a modified welder's shield.
When Brett Brown agreed to become the Sixers' head coach, he knew he was embarking upon a unique challenge with a franchise that planned to be as methodical as possible in its rebuild.
One of the results was a career record for Brown of 47-199 entering this season, a record so lopsidedly poor that Brown may never break the .500 mark.
But the Sixers are finally showing real progress, with a star in Joel Embiid and young players who are turning out to be useful pieces. The Sixers have won seven of their last nine, and there's no one happier to see that than Brown's former boss and mentor, Gregg Popovich.
"It's one of my joys in life to watch them win basketball games because if there's any team that deserves it, it's those guys," Popovich told ESPN.
Brown and the Sixers aren't out of the woods yet. At 14-26, they're still closer to the bottom of the Eastern Conference, but the entire vibe around the team has changed.
"They've had it really tough for all the obvious reasons," said Popovich, who has been the Spurs' head coach since 1996 and worked with Brown from 2002-13.
"There's nobody in our business that is more positive, and more day-to-day upbeat and ready to teach and love than Brett Brown. He's a unique, unique guy."
Philadelphia Phillies fans likely don't know a ton about one of the team's most recent pitching acquisitions, former Red Sox right-hander Clay Buccholz, but it turns out he has a unique connection to the 45th President of the United States of America.
It was Donald Trump who first introduced him to his now wife, Lindsay Clubine, at an after party of a UFC fight following a game out in California back in the late aughts.
The Boston Globe wrote about the encounter early last year.
“It was ‘Affliction: Banned’ fighting, and [Trump] owned the whole circuit," Buchholz told the Globe. "My wife knew him prior, from ‘Deal or No Deal’ when he came on the show as a celebrity banker."
“She was helping him host this event in Anaheim. So when we all walked in, he was there, and he saw us and he introduced Lindsey to me.”
Trump, of course, also has ties to a more formative New England athlete in Tom Brady who allegedly called Donald on Thursday to congratulate him on his coming inauguration.
As for Buchholz opinion on Trump? He was a big supporter during the campaign and is a fan of the former " The Apprentice" host.
“He says what a lot of people think and don’t say,” Buchholz told the Globe. “I like that part of him."
Phillies fans tend to say what they think, so he'll probably be a fan of them as well, right?
Here are some shots of the couple from their social media accounts: