With no live sports on at the moment NBCS Philly decided to re-air Game 7 of the Philadelphia Flyers’ series against the Boston Bruins back in 2010 on Sunday night. As far as franchise-altering wins go the Orange and Black’s victory to cap off one of the most improbable comebacks in the history of professional sports is one of the most memorable in Flyers’ history. On top of overcoming a 3-0 series deficit the Flyers overcame a 3-0 deficit in Game 7 itself with a handful of moments that will stick with most of us forever: James van Riemsdyk’s seeing-eye shot that broke a stick and still beat Tuukka Rask, Danny Briere’s physics-defying game-tying goal, Simon Gagne’s go-ahead goal, and the team’s celebration around Michael Leighton after the final buzzer.
One moment that sticks with this writer from that win didn’t set up a Flyers’ goal or help prevent a Boston Bruins’ tally. It wasn’t a game-changing hit or a play that drew a penalty that led to a power-play goal. Hell, it didn’t even end up on the scoresheet. It came with a little under two minutes left in regulation and the Flyers nursing a one-goal lead. With every second feeling like an eternity for anybody that wanted Philly to win that series, Claude Giroux grabbed the puck in the left corner of the Bruins’ zone and essentially did the lord’s work.
From the time Giroux picked up the puck in the corner until the Bruins recovered the puck in the opposite corner it took 25 seconds off the clock. That doesn’t sound like a ton of time, but it’s an eternity for one player to play keep away against an entire team with both clubs feeling the race towards being on different sides of history. I think about this play a lot. It honestly might be my favorite play in team history and it illustrates a lot about that particular Flyers’ team and Giroux.
The Flyers weren’t supposed to be there. You could pick out almost any point in time during the 2010 postseason and that statement is applicable, but Game 7 in Boston is a game where the Flyers really shouldn’t have been there. Philly found themselves down 3-0 in the semifinals against the Bruins and, without the help of injured forwards Jeff Carter and Ian Laperriere, stormed back to force a Game 7 on the road. Since they loved going down 3-0, the Flyers decided to give up three goals to the Bruins in the first period before scoring four straight to grab the lead late in the third period after Gagne’s tally. All of this while shifting to Leighton, a midseason waiver wire pickup, in net mid-series and coming after the team squeaked into the 2010 postseason thanks to a shootout win over one of the best goalies in the history of the game. They just shouldn’t have been there.
The Bruins probably felt like they shouldn’t have been there either, but in a different way. For four straight games Boston was one win away from the Eastern Conference Final. For a little over two periods in Game 7 they just had to hold on to a three-goal lead to finally put them into the final four. They were at home, in a pivotal game, with the crowd and momentum on their side to finally put an end to the series that wouldn’t end. It was unfathomable for them to have worked themselves into this position as they watched the game, series, and postseason slipping through their fingers. The Flyers on the other hand lived in the world of unpredictability in the spring of 2010 and the close to that Game 7 was just another day at the office for them. Giroux’s display of puck possession summarized how one side was letting the moment get to their heads while the other side was running through another wall thrown up in front of them on their way to an unexpected Stanley Cup Final appearance.
Not only did the shift encapsulate that 2010 Flyers’ team, it also encapsulated Giroux as a player. The team needed to survive the final 7:08 after Gagne gave them a lead. On a roster that featured Chris Pronger, Mike Richards, Carter, Gagne, Kimmo Timonen, and Briere it was a player in his first full NHL season fighting his way into the corner for the puck before shrugging off Bruin after Bruin to melt away 25 seconds that announced to Boston that they were about to be on the wrong side of history. Getting the puck deep or putting a shot on net would have wasted some time, but Giroux busted his ass on an intelligent play to put his team in a better situation to win.
When it’s all said and done, Giroux is going to go down as one of the best Flyers ever. He’s going to finish first or second in some major stats in Flyers’ history whenever he decides to hang them up, but thanks to the team’s inability to go deep in a postseason recently the captain may not get as much respect he deserves. Not a lot of fans question Giroux’s leadership or if he’s been the problem around here, but whenever somebody does I think about this play and his shift in 2012 against Sidney Crosby. When the Flyers actually had teams that could contend Giroux stood out and led. If this season does resume, or if the next time the playoffs happen is 2021, the Orange and Black look to be a contender again and I know Giroux will play his part. Doing exactly what he needs to do to help his team win.