Claude Giroux wanted it. Claude Giroux got it.
His first shift on Sunday afternoon, which completely set the tone for the Philadelphia Flyers in their Game 6 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, was an absolute thing of beauty. Was it his best shift ever as a Flyer? No, probably not. That title probably goes to his series-clinching shift against Boston in 2010, if you're asking me.
But his first shift was unreal. (Video and a GIF of that shift right here.) He first destroyed Sidney Crosby with a huge hit, and then seconds later scored on a beautiful shot over the shoulder of Marc-Andre Fleury. The Flyers looked back, and apparently, Giroux had it planned all along.
"Claude called it for me before the start of the game," said Max Talbot. "He said 'I'm going to have a great first shift.' I didn't know what it meant and he was physical and he scored a goal so that's what a leader would do. Claude definitely set up the tone early for us tonight."
Peter Laviolette took the praise just a bit further. Emphasis ours.
"Not only leadership but his game tonight was monstrous, it really was," said the coach. "When the best player in the world comes up to you and tells you, 'I don't know who you're planning on starting tonight, but I want that first shift', that says everything you need to know about Claude Giroux right there."
Some more things that were said after Game 6 after the jump.
Oh wait, we weren't done drooling over Claude Giroux. Sorry.
"He's just the best player on the ice." -- Brooks Orpik
"I knew it was going to be a hard game. He is a very special player. He can hit, he can deke, and he can score. There are not many players like that ... Sorry I am tired I forget your questions." -- Ilya Bryzgalov
A reporter asked Jaromir Jagr about "the look in Giroux's eyes" coming into the game, how it seemed everybody knew he'd come to play on Sunday.
"I don't look at his eyes," Jags said. "He's our top guy, he was playing every game excellent and so was today. It's no surprise to me, it shouldn't be a surprise to anybody."
"G's probably the biggest competitor that I have ever played with. He wants to win so bad. I could tell right when I got to the rink this morning that he was fired up and ready to go. When you hit like that on the first shift, that's our best guy in here and he played a great game tonight." -- Scott Hartnell
Bryzgalow was pretty gold after Game 6, too.
Q: Is this the most tired you've been?
"I don't know. Maybe. It was a twelve o'clock in the morning game. I woke up too early."
Q: Is this your best game in the playoffs?
"Why you asking a question like that? You are reading too much of the newspaper."
And it's always great when players react to dumb questions like they should. Here's Marc-Andre Fleury doing just that after Game 6.
Q: Marc, is there any particular goal in this game that you'd like to have back?
All of them?
"Yeah, all of them."
Admit it. This might rub you the wrong way as a Flyers fan, and one Philadelphia reporter even feigned outrage and called it "classless," but if Peter Laviolette said this after a series loss to the Penguins, you'd probably want it on a t-shirt or something. There's absolutely nothing wrong with this statement from Dan Bylsma, which he made before taking questions at his post-game press conference on Sunday.
"I want to congratulate the Flyers organization on the series win but, I really can't wish them good luck though."
Danny Briere hinted that there might just be some injuries on this team that we're unaware of. Does that scare the crap out of you as much as it scares the crap out of me?
"It's all about sacrificing the body. I'm not going to talk about who was injured and who's gotten through a lot, but I can tell you that there's a lot of guys that have been in huge pain just for a spot to be in the line up. But the way everybody sacrificed -- I've been here for 5 years and it was one of the experiences I might be the most proud of. Sometimes you win a game with five, six, seven guys that really go above and beyond the call of duty, but today I can't even think of one guy that didn't do that and that makes me proud."
Max Talbot played the role of scout in this series for Peter Laviolette. Said the coach:
"I think anytime you get a player that is well versed on the opponent, you spend a lot of time with them. Max and I had a lot of conversations in my office, talking about personnel, playing we're not as familiar with that maybe come in because of injury, systems and we go over it. Max is right there. I think that helps. I think that goes throughout the league. I think you utilize what you can. So not only was Max great on the ice, maybe one day he'll make a great coach as well."
We'll close this out by swooning over Claude Giroux some more. No shame in that. First, here's G on players sacrificing the body to block shots all game long:
"You saw Scott Hartnell diving on his two knees to block a shot. It was kind of close to his private areas, but he kind of still did it."
Here's G on his temper tantrum at the end of Game 5 in Pittsburgh:
"Yeah, I get a little anger management at sometimes when I'm not happy about my game and I kind of blame myself. I think that's good. Obviously, it wasn't very classy to do in front of everybody. I should have done it in an open room, but you got to do what you got to do."
And finally, on Ilya Bryzgalov:
Q: At what point during the game do you realize that Bryzgalov is on top of his game?
"Well, with Bryz you can tell before a game. When he's focused he's kind of in a bubble and kind of does his own thing. It's weird to say but in the warm ups we kind of know if he's going to have a good game. He was ready to go. He was our best player on the ice tonight and he gave us a chance to win."
Q: How exactly can you tell if Bryz is going to have a good game?
"That's our little secret. I can't tell you that."