Surely you know it, but it is our biggest note—Claude Giroux played his 1000th NHL game last night, and it’s looking like it will have been his last as a Flyer. The vibe around here is very much “I was at Claude Giroux Night and a hockey game broke out.” We’re going to take a moment to hit on a couple of takeaways from this game, just to say we did, but then we’re going to move on to talk a little more about Giroux. Because that’s almost certainly what we’re mostly here to do. Let’s get into it.
Al stats via Natural Stat Trick.
Some actual game notes
A gutsy win
It may not have been their prettiest of wins, but this was undoubtedly the team’s biggest of the season. They blew a 3-1 lead to fall behind 4-3 early in the third period, and the game was certainly getting away from them at that point, they were clearly losing steam, and that’s the type of game that might have gone sideways on them in a big way in just about any other setting. But they seemed like they weren’t going to let that happen, not in this game, and they really bore down, didn’t get frustrated, and they got results. Sometimes it takes until the bitter end to get the chance that you need, that was certainly the case here, and the Flyers made sure they didn’t let things swing to far away from them in the meantime, and capitalized on that chance when they got it. Things have rarely gone smoothly or ideally for this team this season, but it means a lot that they were able to still manage to get this win for their captain.
Kevin Hayes takes a step forward
It’s been something of an understandably slow road for Hayes to work to get back to form after the time he missed with injury, but last night certainly saw him make a big move towards that. He was moving very well, undoubtedly the best as he has since his return, and was creating a nice bit offensively. He scored the game tying goal and the relief was pretty palpable. Hayes is going to be an important part of this team going forward, even more so than he has been, and it means something that he was able to step up in this big moment and be a driver for the team trying to give its captain a proper sendoff.
Cam York impresses
Also continuing to impress in this one is Cam York. And while he hasn’t been immune to showing some growing pains, what’s impressed the most is how he’s been able to take every increased opportunity he’s been given and run with it. He started the game paired with Ivan Provorov, and he looked comfortable in that role—he did get bumped back down to the third pair with Keith Yandle for the third, but one wonders if this didn’t have more to do with him and Justin Braun having a few rough shifts before that. York also picked up a very nice goal on the power play, and continues to settle in to being effective in that role as well. He’s finding success all over the lineup, in all situations, and it’s going to be really hard for the Flyers to send him back down, if they were even considering it.
Joel Farabee accepts the torch
Just a small note here. In a nice moment, before the game, Giroux talked about Farabee as being the one he thinks is going to break his records around here. It very much felt like him passing the torch, if you will, and in a way it feels fitting that Farabee was the one to get the game winner last night (down to the wire, with just 1:18 left in regulation). Short of Giroux himself scoring the game winner, you almost couldn’t write a more perfect ending than that.
The elephant in the room
There almost doesn't seem to be a right or easy way to talk about what was almost certainly Claude Giroux’s last game as a Flyer. It goes without saying that there was a lot of emotion coming out at all points of the night. The ceremony recognizing his 1000th game was touching, as were the messages from former teammates and others in the organization praising this achievement. For all that he’s been through with this team, it still feels a little surreal that he’s not going to be part of it after much longer. The weight of the moment came down further as the night went on.
I wasn’t expecting to get emotional about this one. I had been joking with a friend earlier in the day that all of the extreme discourse was a little funny in a way—it was sounding more like Giroux was going to hit the 1000th game mark and then just disintegrate at center ice, rather than being traded to some good team where he’s going to get a great chance to win a Cup, like he’s been attending his own funeral all week. But we still understand the gravity of the moment. Giroux has been an important part of this organization for as long as I’ve been following them, and I certainly recognize his importance. But I don’t think of myself as a super emotional person. I didn’t have a huge reaction to the last big departure—Wayne Simmonds—and I figured the same would be the case here. It’s a shame, but it’s business. But seeing the crowd on their feet as the seconds ticked down, the roar that took over the building, and then the quick thanks to Carter Hart as usual and then every player looking more eager to take their turn hugging Giroux. His laps around the ice to recognize the crowd. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get misty eyed for a moment there.
If there was ever a thought that he might not waive his no-move clause and opt to stay, Giroux’s comments after the game, talking about spending the day reminiscing and how he wished he’d realized earlier how hard leaving would be, all but put that down. It’s been reported that he’ll be out of the lineup tonight and Sunday, until a deal is made, so the post-Giroux era seems to be upon us already. It’s all happening, it’s all now very real.
What a tenure it was, and what a way to say goodbye.
Thanks for everything, Cap.