Giroux, Biron lead rout of Rangers

   NEW YORK _ Hockey is a simple game when your goalie is playing well.
   For the second straight game, Marty Biron was sharp and the Flyers used a three-goal outburst to turn a close game into a romp.
   This time, Matt Carle, Glen Metropolit and Mike Knuble scored in a 1:49 span of the second period to give the Flyers a 5-0 lead Sunday en route to a 5-2 win over the slumping New York Rangers at sold-out Madison Square Garden.
   On Saturday, three goals in 1:07 turned a 2-1 nailbiter into a 5-1 win over the Islanders.
   There were a couple of constants in both wins.
   For one,  Biron began returning to form. He made 38 saves against the Islanders and 35 against the Rangers.
   For another, rookie forward Claude Giroux is starting to resemble the player who was a junior hotshot last year.
   Giroux, a winger-turned-center, had the best performance of his young NHL career Sunday as he collected a goal and two assists in the nationally televised contest.
   In his last five games, Giroux has six points (two goals, four assists). In the last two games, Giroux, Darroll Powe and Scottie Upshall have been the Flyers' best line.
  Giroux, who turned 21 last month, struggled after being promoted from the AHL Phantoms on Dec. 26. In his fourth game, he suffered a concussion when elbowed by Anaheim’s Corey(CQ) Perry on Jan. 2 and was sidelined for nearly two weeks.
   But since returning to the lineup on Jan. 15, Giroux has made steady progress. In his last five games, he has six points and has been so productive that he has been getting time on the power play.
   “Our coaches planted a lot of confidence in myself,” Giroux said. “I’m playing center now and it’s working out well. It doesn’t matter where I play. I’m just happy to be out there and I try to work hard.
   “The first few games I got called up, I wasn’t as comfortable as I am now, but after each game, you learn your system and the players you play with know a little more about you,” he added.
    The emeregnce of Giroux could make some other players expendable (Joffrey Lupul?) before the March 4 trade deadline.
   Stay tuned.
   * * * * * * 
   Mike Richards set a modern NHL record with his third three-on-five shorthanded goal of his career, helping key the win. Richards, who netted his 20th goal, and Arron Asham each had a team-high four hits.
   Richards' goal was the Flyers' best-in-the-NHL 14th shorthanded score of the season, but their first since Dec. 20.
  _  Sam Carchidi

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