A worst-case scenario has reared its ugly head this afternoon, as Claude Giroux has been suspended for Tuesday’s Game 5 for elbowing Dainius Zubrus in the head late in the second period of last night’s 4-2 loss.
Now, the Flyers are facing elimination without their best and most consistent player who has also been one of the top skaters in this postseason.
“After pulling even with Zubrus on the backcheck, Giroux chops down across the back of Zubrus’ stick, and then well after the puck has been chipped in the corner, Giroux comes across Zubrus’ body and drives upward with his shoulder making principle point of contact with Zubrus’ head,” said NHL vice president of player safety Brendan Shanahan.
“In spite of the fact that Zubrus is bent over and is in a skating posture, the positioning of his head does not significantly change before Giroux recklessly picks him. We feel this rises to the level of supplemental discipline. We have taken into consideration…Zubrus returned to the game and completed it.
It is also important to note that Giroux hasn’t been fined or suspended previously during his four-year NHL career.”
I’d call this the first real test for this crop of Flyers. It’s a clear situation like those teams in the 90′s faced without Eric Lindros — seeing how does the team respond without its most impactful teammate — but with more intensity since they’re one loss away from a premature end to the season.
And what a time to feel the Sword of Damocles hovering above their sweet heads. Lucky for them, Game 5 is at home, and a potential Game 7 is too.
As for the endless speculation and discussion over Brendan Shanahan’s mental powers or his inconsistency, remember this: Giroux committed the biggest boo-boo out there by clearly violating Rule 48. You know, that big one amended to try and eliminate hits to the head?
Given that, there should be no questioning his judgment or comparing/contrasting to other incidents that did not result in supplemental discipline. They don’t apply specifically when you’re talking about a rule which had its scope expanded to try and protect careers.
What I am most disappointed in, was Giroux’s strafing run during the entire shift leading up to the head-hunting.
Why he was so incensed at an obvious missed call on Brodeur playing the puck outside the trapezoid, and then acting like a mad bull the whole way up the ice in a one-goal road game speaks volumes to the mental hold the Devils have over the Flyers; something which may or may not be smoothed over with an emotional win-or-go-home game looming tomorrow night.
As John Lydon once wrote, “anger is an energy,” but it’s one that is ultimately self-consuming. There is only so much to be drawn from something that’s not positive or unifying.