Giroux not leading the way a captain should

YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Claude Giroux reacts after getting hit in the second period, a play gave the Flyers a power play.
YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Claude Giroux reacts after getting hit in the second period, a play gave the Flyers a power play.
Posted: April 24, 2014

This article has been corrected. An earlier version stated that Dave Poulin was the only captain to lead the Flyers to multiple appearances in the Stanley Cup Finals. He was the last one, not the only one.

IT IS CLEAR through three games that the Rangers intend to bump, harass, slash and aggravate Flyers captain Claude Giroux every chance they get. So, how are they doing?

Last night marked the 13th consecutive game Giroux did not score a goal against the Rangers, who took a 2-1 series lead with a suffocating 4-1 victory. Giroux drew a couple of penalties on the Blueshirts and chipped in his second assist of the playoffs. He even got his first shot on goal, on his 62nd shift of the series, but he again did not get one past Henrik Lundqvist.

"He's a good goalie," Giroux said. "We knew that coming in the series, and we just need to keep shooting the puck, and they're going to start going in."

The Flyers were 21-2-1 when Giroux scored during the regular season, 21-28-9 when he did not. That's 30 losses in regulation . . . 28 when Giroux didn't score.

"He's been in the league for 6 years," linemate Jake Voracek said optimistically. "He's doing so many other things right. I'm sure he'll be fine."

Maybe, but it's worth noting that this is the first playoff series since Giroux took over for Chris Pronger as Flyers captain before last season. Pronger missed the only series he was captain because of injury.

In 50 games without the the "C" on his chest, Giroux had 55 points. Here is a look at how some recent (and some legendary) Flyers fared in their first postseasons as team captain:

* Mike Richards, 2009 (lost). Remember those awful BMW commercials featuring Richards? That's how comfortable he was speaking in public. His first playoff series was a loss to Pittsburgh in which he had five points in six games. The Penguins went on to win the Stanley Cup, the only championship so far of the Sidney Crosby era.

* Jason Smith, 2008 (won). Smith, a shutdown defenseman, was the quiet leader on a team of budding stars such as Richards and Jeff Carter. The Flyers beat Washington in overtime of Game 7 of the opening series (Joffrey Lupul with the goal) and made it to the conference finals.

* Peter Forsberg, 2007 (DNQ). Forsberg was at the end of his brilliant career during his one season as Flyers captain. The team had the worst season in franchise history and missed the playoffs.

* Derian Hatcher, 2006 (lost). Hatcher also was at the end of his line. He was a minus-4 in a six-game, opening-round loss to Buffalo.

* Keith Primeau, 2002 (lost badly). Primeau was criticized during the early part of his career when he scored only six goals in his first 70 playoff games. That perception started to change a bit when he scored that goal in the fifth overtime against Pittsburgh in 2000. It re-emerged when the Flyers fell flat on their faces in his first playoff series as team captain. The Flyers were dismissed by Ottawa when they managed only two goals in five games. Primeau redeemed himself 2 years later by almost single-handedly bringing the Flyers to Game 7 of the conference finals.

* Eric Desjardins, 2000 (won). The team's relationship with Eric Lindros got so poisoned that he was replaced as captain by Desjardins, a veteran All-Star defenseman who won a Stanley Cup with Montreal in 1993. Desjardins had a goal and four assists and was plus-5 in the first series, a five-game win over Buffalo. Lindros missed most of the playoff run because of another concussion, but returned for the end of the conference-finals loss to New Jersey.

* Lindros, 1995 (won). Lindros, only 21 at the time, restored team pride after 5 years of misery by leading the Flyers to the conference finals. In his first series, when they beat Buffalo in five, Lindros missed the first three games with a eye injury after getting hit with a puck late in the regular season. Lindros had a goal and four assists in the two games he did play against Buffalo.

And finally, it's impossible to dismiss these two players when talking about Flyers team captains:

* Dave Poulin, 1985 (won). He is the last captain to lead the Flyers to multiple appearances in the Stanley Cup Finals. Poulin was known mostly as a grinder and terrific penalty-killer, but he scored 30 goals twice. His two-man-shorthanded goal against the Nordiques in the 1985 conference finals is one of the great plays in team history.

* Bobby Clarke, 1973 (won). Clarke was then the youngest captain in NHL history at 23. He led the Flyers to the franchise's first postseason series win when they beat the North Stars. Clarke suffered a scary eye injury by a wayward stick, but was back the following game. That series was immortalized by Gary Dornhoefer's headlong leap while scoring in overtime in Game 5. Clarke that year won his first of three NHL MVP awards.

When the Flyers started the season 1-7, Giroux boldly predicted the team would rebound and make the playoffs. He carried the Flyers to the playoffs with 79 points over the final 65 games to finish third in the NHL in scoring.

Last night, he seemed again to invite his teammates to jump on his back. Why not, it's where the Rangers have been all season.

"We'll be ready for Game 4," he said. "We're going to tie up this series and go back to New York. We just have to stay confident. It's the playoffs. It's exciting."


On Twitter: @EdBarkowitz

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