Tuesday, February 9, 2016

On Giroux, MVP talk, and other Flyers musings

Ten thoughts from the Flyers’ thrilling 3-2 overtime win over the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks at the reverberating Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday:

On Giroux, MVP talk, and other Flyers musings

Flyers captain Claude Giroux. (Steven M. Falk/Staff Photographer)
Flyers captain Claude Giroux. (Steven M. Falk/Staff Photographer)

Ten thoughts from the Flyers’ thrilling 3-2 overtime win over the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks at the reverberating Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday:

1. Claude Giroux has put himself in the MVP talk. Sidney Crosby is the frontrunner, by far, but Giroux is in the conversation as a top-3 candidate. He scored the game-winner Tuesday with 4.2 seconds left in OT.

Hindered by a hand injury, Giroux failed to score a goal in his first 15 games. But since Dec. 11, he has 51 points, which is the most in the NHL in that span. Overall, he has 71 points, putting him fourth in the league.

2. Give Ray Emery props for rebounding after a shaky start. Emery, coming off a groin injury and playing his first game since Feb. 27, allowed two goals on the first four shots, then steadied himself and stopped the final 21 shots. So the Flyers beat the powerful Blackhawks AND gave Steve Mason a much-needed rest.

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3. The Flyers’ penalty kill is on a certified roll. They were 3 for 3 Tuesday and are 18 for 18 in their last five games. Much-maligned Braydon Coburn has been especially effective on the PK lately.

4. Sean Couturier has blossomed into one of the NHL’s best defensive forwards. Over the weekend, he shut down the Crosby. On Tuesday, he did a great job on Chicago star Jonathan Toews.

5. The Flyers’ power play went 0 for 5 Tuesday, but that stat is deceiving. The Flyers had good puck movement with the extra attacker and hit the post four times _ twice by Giroux _ while on the power play.

6. Though Colorado’s Patrick Roy is the leading candidate, Craig Berube is a legitimate coach-of-the-year candidate. Since their 1-7 start, the Flyers are 35-18-7.

7. Andrew MacDonald, who blocked four shots Tuesday, has been a great addition to the defense. He makes smart plays, has good speed, and he has had a stabilizing effect on his defensive partner, Luke Schenn.

8. Maybe it’s because the stakes have been raised because the playoffs are within sight, but the Flyers have played with much more urgency than the Penguins or Blackhawks in the last three games.

9. Converted center Vinny Lecavalier is starting to look more comfortable at left wing _ a key factor heading down the stretch.

10.If I was picking the Flyers’ MVP up to this point, my vote would be: 1. Giroux; 2. Mason; and 3. Wayne Simmonds.

Late theatrics. The Flyers have won 10 straight regular-season games against Chicago at the Wells Fargo Center since a loss in 1996. The last three were in dramatic fashion: Giroux had Tuesday’s winner with 4.2 seconds remaining in OT; James van Riemsdyk scored with 32.8 seconds left to give the Flyers a 5-4 win in 2012; and Chris Pronger tipped in a Giroux pass with 2.1 seconds to go in regulation for a  3-2 triumph in 2010.

Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter @BroadStBull.



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Sam Carchidi Staff Writer
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