Pressure to score shouldn't all be on Claude Giroux's shoulders

Pressure to score shouldn't all be on Claude Giroux's shoulders
April 25, 2014, 4:26 pm
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Even the best at their respective crafts needed a little help to reach that next level and get past their toughest opponents.

Batman had Robin. Dr. J had Moses Malone, Mo Cheeks and Andrew Toney. Ric Flair had the Four Horsemen.

Philadelphia Flyers star Claude Giroux is no different and his more than capable teammates need to step up and help out the struggling captain starting tonight in Game 4 against the New York Rangers.

With the Flyers having scored just six goals so far in the first three games of the series, the pressure is on Giroux, the team’s best offensive player. As well it should be.

It’s no secret that Giroux has really failed to find his offensive game so far in this series against the Rangers. Through three games, Giroux has just two points. And those two points are of the assist variety.

In fact, Giroux registered his first shot of the series in Tuesday’s Game 3. It took him 81 shifts in the series before he registered that first shot on goal. That’s not going to cut it, especially from the team’s most dangerous offensive player.

Give the devils their due. The Rangers’ defense, specifically the pairing of Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh, has done a really good job neutralizing the Flyers’ biggest weapon. Rangers coach Alain Vigneault also deserves credit for getting the matchup he wants against Giroux a good portion of the time.

But if the Flyers are to knot the series with a Game 4 victory tonight, Giroux needs to get going because he’s the leader of the team’s offensive identity.

That offensive identity is balanced scoring – Philadelphia had seven players score 20 or more goals in the regular season, most in the NHL – led by Giroux, the captain of the ship who finished third in the entire league with 86 points.

But so far for the Flyers in this series, there has hardly been any scoring, let alone balance.

Andrew MacDonald, Luke Schenn and Mark Streit have scored half of the Flyers’ six goals in the series. That sounds all fine and dandy until you remember they are defensemen.

Outside of Jake Voracek, who has easily been the most dangerous Flyer at the offensive end and has been making things happen along with showing some fire, the other top forwards have barely shown up.

Scott Hartnell has just two assists. Wayne Simmonds has just the empty-net goal he scored in Game 2.Vinny Lecavalier is sporting just a single assist. Same with Matt Read. Where has Brayden Schenn been in this series?

These guys have to show up starting tonight not only to give the Flyers’ offense a desperately needed boost in what is pretty much a must-win game, but to also create space to allow Giroux to go to work.

The fact that those guys aren’t doing much of anything on the offensive end allows the Rangers’ defense to hone in on Giroux even more and keep the Flyers’ captain bottled up.

So while the pressure is certainly on Giroux to put some points on the board tonight in Game 4, he’s not alone. His teammates need to step it up and get the Rangers away from Giroux so he can get the space he needs to do his thing.

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Also of note, if you are one of the fans privileged enough to sit near the Rangers’ net tonight, you know you want to pick up one of these Flyers heads-on-sticks the team will be giving out to haunt Henrik Lundqvist’s dreams. Giroux, Voracek, Hartnell, Simmonds and Kimmo Timonen are all available and free of charge if you are one of those select fans.

As you can see, I was able to pick up a Voracek one at Game 3 the other night and I can confirm that it is even more frightening in person. My dog won’t even come within 10 feet of it. That’s how terrifying it is.

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