After a 4-1 loss to Montreal, Flyers captain Claude Giroux had some harsh advice for his struggling team and asked the coaching staff to leave the locker room while he addressed his teammates. In his speech, Giroux was hard on himself and his team’s attitude along with their level of intensity on the ice. “We’re not winning battles. We’re just going through the motions. We’re a young team that can skate and has strong sticks. We should be winning more battles than this. It’s just frustrating to see. I know it has to be better. On a team there are 20 guys, and we need everybody to show up.” Teammate and veteran defenseman Kimmo Timonen agreed with Giroux’s sentiments saying that “The attitude has to change, how do you change it? Everybody in their head has to change it. Change it. Nobody else changes the attitude except yourself.”
The captain’s message seemed to strike a nerve for Monday night’s game when they devastated the NY Islanders in a 7-0 shutout. Giroux led by example, scoring the game’s first goal just 26 seconds into the 1st period, ending a 14 game point deficit, and make sure the team knew his message was serious. Danny Briere also stepped up to score 2 goals in the third period and 1 assist. Following Monday’s game, Danny Briere spoke to NHL.com in regards to Giroux’s comments, the Flyers’ struggles so far this season, and why the win over the Islanders could signal a turning point for the team as a whole. When asked if he had any comment on Giroux’s critical address of the team’s competitiveness: “I think Claude is very emotional and Claude is all in all the time. Everybody knows it’s been a little rough for him, the puck isn’t going in, but one thing you can’t fault with him is his effort every single night. He had total rights to do what he did because for him to be successful he needs all of us to play as hard as we can, to open up some lanes for him, to make room for him out there.”
Monday’s game in Long Island was a prime example of the intensity that fans expected coming into the season. The Flyers aggressive play consistantly won them races to strip the puck from the Islanders and any chances for them to mobilize any continuous offensive pressure. After Monday’s game, the Flyers needed to carry any leftover zest into their match against division rivals, the Pittsburgh Penguins, in order to even out their recent road trip and show that they were a force to be reckoned with. Wednesday’s game was seen as a make-or-break marker for the rest of the Flyers season. Flyers fans became distraught early on in the game when the Penguins took a 2-0 lead. However, their fears were somewhat allayed after Grossmann and Simmonds scored to end the period in a 2-2 tie. From then on, the Flyers put on quite a show, taking a 2 goal lead, which was later lost, and incurring a shit-storm of penalties. Later in the game, Simmonds received attention for his Gordie Howe hat trick and Jakub Voracek finished out his own hat trick with his game winning goal to tally a 6-5 win for the Flyers.
Finally, there was hope for a consistent season. There was talk. If the Flyers could keep up their level of aggressiveness and intensity, they would easily be a top contending team for the cup. With a 5 game homestand coming up, they would be leaning on the momentum of this win to keep their spirits up and their excitement high. That excitement was short lived, however, as the very next day the Flyers began their string of home games with an embarrassing 5-2 loss to Florida Panthers and showed yet again that a consistent level of play seemed to be nearly impossible. The Panthers took a 3 goal lead early in the game that wouldn’t be answered until more than halfway through the 3rd period by Luke Schenn. According to Tim Panaccio’s twitter: “Bryzgalov told Michael Barkann on WIP today that he is “exhausted” and needs a break …” Whether it was fatigue or just returning to their normal inconsistency, this team seems to have lost whatever spark that fed off Giroux’s locker room speech a week ago. This brings the Flyers record to 8-10-1 with 19 games played giving them only 17 points, and starts their upcoming streak of home games to an unfavorable start. We can only hope that a winning season doesn’t require a collective slap on the wrist from Giroux every few games.
Video courtesy of AngeloTony HockeyHighlights
Briere interview via nhl.com http://flyers.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=656387&navid=DL|PHI|home