Inside the Flyers: With plenty of leaders, Flyers in no hurry to pin 'C' on Giroux
With no disrespect to the injured Chris Pronger, it's time to make center Claude Giroux the Flyers' captain. Now.
With no disrespect to the injured Chris Pronger, it's time to make center Claude Giroux the Flyers' captain.
That's been the sentiment circulating the Twitterverse, and it gained momentum after Giroux's stirring performance - it will reach epic proportions if the Flyers get 12 more postseason Knock Knocks - in Sunday's series-clinching, 5-1 win over Sid Vicious and the hated Pittsburgh Penguins.
Most of the Flyers shrug at the captain suggestion, including Giroux, 24, whose young age is the only reason that might give the Flyers pause if a new captain has to be named next season.
They say you don't need a "C" on your jersey to be a leader, and based on the results this season, it's difficult to argue.
The players say they have enough leaders in the room, and their admirable 43-25-7 record (including the playoffs) without their captain, the concussed Pronger, seems to affirm that. The Flyers have sailed along while primarily using three alternates: Giroux and veterans Kimmo Timonen and Danny Briere.
"I'm not worried about that kind of stuff right now," Giroux said when it was mentioned that he was emerging as a prime captain candidate. "That's the least on my mind. We need everybody on the same page."
In a roundabout way, coach Peter Laviolette said on Tuesday that he and general manager Paul Holmgren have no plans to name a captain for the rest of this year's Stanley Cup run. He has more important things on his plate.
"Our leadership group is really solid right now," Laviolette said after Tuesday's crisp practice in Voorhees. "There's great leadership, starting with Chris Pronger. Kimmo Timonen, Danny Briere, Jaromir Jagr, Scott Hartnell. The list goes on. Max Talbot. Claude Giroux certainly is a tremendous leader. He's really started to spread his wings in that direction. We're just fortunate we have a group like that. . . . That's where the veteran leadership comes in."
The Flyers have a great blend of youth and veterans, and the combination worked perfectly as they eliminated the favored Penguins, four games to two, in the conference quarterfinals. They are expected to start the next round Saturday or Sunday.
"We have a lot of guys who have been around this league a long time and know what it takes to win," defenseman Matt Carle said. "So it's not like all these young guys are looking up to one guy. It's more leadership by a group."
Captain or not, Giroux has become the ultimate leader. Before Game 6 on Sunday, he was asked about losing the previous two games and about the pressure that had seemingly shifted to the Flyers. Pressure? Giroux: Bring it on. "I love pressure," he said.
Then he went out and knocked Sidney Crosby to the ice with a clean hit in the opening seconds and scored a goal, both on the game's first shift.
The Penguins were never the same.
Having dispatched the Stanley Cup favorites, the Flyers must now find motivation in trying to beat Team X - they won't know their next opponent until the other quarterfinals are over - in the second round.
If it turns out to be the New York Rangers, the Flyers will once again be heavy underdogs. Their 0-6 regular-season record against Henrik Lundqvist and the Blueshirts is the reason.
"The playoffs are so different. I remember being in juniors and in the same kind of situation [being trounced in the season series] and we ended up sweeping the team," Carle said. "I know it's different, talking about junior hockey compared to the NHL. You never know when the playoffs come around. That's why an eight-seed can beat a one, so it doesn't really matter at this point."
If the next opponent is not the Rangers, the Flyers will either be favored or the series will be rated a toss-up.
"Obviously, the season series against the Rangers left a bitter taste in our mouths," winger Wayne Simmonds said. "When you lose all six games to a team, that's not too good. If it happens that we play them, good. If not, that's good, too. We just want to be focused on ourselves. Go up and down the lineup and take care of business."
With 20 guys serving as captains.