If the Flyers are going to avoid elimination on Tuesday night in Game 5 against New Jersey, they are going to have to do it without their top point producer and leader.
The NHL has decided to suspend Flyers forward Claude Giroux for one game as a result of his high hit on New Jersey's Dainius Zubrus late in the second period on Sunday night.
"Claude Giroux delivered an illegal check to the head," NHL vice president of player safety Brendan Shanahan said in a video explanation (embedded below). "After pulling even with Zubrus on the backcheck, Giroux chops down Zubrus' stick. Well after the puck has been chipped into the corner, Giroux comes across Zubrus' body with his shoulder, making principal point of contact with Zubrus' head."
Shanahan used the term "reckless" to describe Giroux's choice of contact.
"We feel this reckless picking of the head rises to the level of supplemental discipline," Shanahan said. "We have taken into consideration that though he was shaken up, Zubrus returned to the game and finished it."
This is Giroux's first suspension or fine in his four-year NHL career.
Shanahan pointed out that Giroux displayed frustration – by turning his back to the play to continue complaining to an official about a missed call – which added to the intent factor.
Giroux issued a statement through the Flyers' public relations staff that says he "respects" Shanahan's decision and "wants to move on." Giroux said he had a 15 to 20 minute hearing with Shanahan over the phone on Monday morning.
He was originally given a two-minute minor for head contact on Sunday night.
"I'm not a dirty player," Giroux told reporters on Sunday. "I don't want to hit guys on the head. I was just trying to finish my hit there."
Then, later, when asked specifically about a review by dean of discipline Brendan Shanahan, Giroux said, "I think I should be fine. He was leaning in. At the same time, [the Devils' Anton] Volchenkov also hit [the Flyers' Wayne] Simmonds in the face with an elbow. They can look at that one, too."
For his part, Zubrus declined to comment on whether it was a dirty hit.
"I'm not going to comment on whether it was dirty or not," Zubrus said. "It's playoffs. They try to hit us, we try to hit them. There's plenty of hits that I guess you can say are questionable, or whatever. I think he got a penalty. I think it was deserved. That's about it."
For the latest updates, follow Frank Seravalli on Twitter: @DNFlyers