Claude Giroux will go down as one of the very best Flyers in franchise history, and while he still has time to add to his legacy in Orange and Black, his legend started to begin back on this very day in 2010.
Staring a 2-0 series deficit after losing back-to-back one goal games in Chicago, the Flyers were desperate for a win in game 3 back in Philadelphia to avoid being put on the ropes in their first Stanley Cup Final since 1997.
Then merely 22 years old, Giroux followed a promising 47-point campaign with a playoff tear leading into the finals. Needing someone to step up and force the issue with the Blackhawks’ elite offensive talent, Giroux burst through the door in game 3.
Giroux assisted on Scott Hartnell’s power play goal in the second, and then on Ville Leino’s tying goal early in the third period to draw the Flyers even at 3-3 heading into overtime. Given the deflating nature of the Flyers’ first two close defeats in Chicago, an overtime loss in game 3 would have completely let the air out of the Flyers’ sails.
As many great Giroux goals happen, this one started with a slick play from G in the neutral zone to setup the Flyers’ attack. Giroux slid the puck over on the wing to Daniel Briere and split through the middle of the Chicago defense to create space for Matt Carle to jump in on the play. Then Giroux found the empty space in front of the Chicago net and made himself available for the deflection and Carle didn’t miss the target. The puck trickled past Antti Niemi and the Flyers mobbed Giroux as he completed a three-point night to keep Philadelphia in the series with a badly needed 4-3 win to pull the series lead to 2-1.
Giroux finished the 2010 playoff run with 21 points in 23 games, cementing his ability to be a top-six forward on a team loaded with options. Given the way Giroux stepped up in those playoffs, it’s no surprise that the Flyers soon turned the keys to the franchise over to the talented and fearless leader.
Here’s to hoping that hockey returns for real and Giroux can chase another chance at hoisting Lord Stanley’s Cup and brining it back to Broad Street.
Also on June 2nd in franchise history...the Flyers acquired a first-round pick from the Rangers as a result of dropping a tampering charge against New York for hiring then-coach Fred Shero to the same role in addition to the title of general manager...the pick (seventh overall) was used in 1978 to select Ken “The Rat” Linseman, who would go on to tally 257 points in 269 games with the Flyers over five seasons...
*Stick taps to hockeyreference.com, nhl.com, and Flyers.nhl.com for help with this trip down memory lane*