G’s guarantee (sort of): With just two goals in his last 23 games prior to last night, Claude Giroux was pretty hard on his own recent play the other day. “Some guys are playing their best hockey of the season, but personally I’ve got to step up and bring more for the team,’’ he told reporters.
Sooo… He teed up Travis Konecny for a tip-in and the Flyers first goal in Thursday night’s 5-3 victory over Montreal at the Wells Fargo Center. Then, seconds after Jake Voracek’s costly mid-ice turnover was converted into the ninth shorthanded goal scored against the Flyers this season, Giroux laced a surprise wrist shot past Montreal’s Carey Price, with Wayne Simmonds parked in his familiar doorstop spot. Finally, he assisted on Jake Voracek’s tie-breaking power play goal early in the third – his fifth three-point game this season.
In truth, Giroux has hardly been unproductive, and is asked nightly to play against best lines and in all types of special teams situations. Still, with just four points over his previous 11 games, it’s easy to understand Giroux’s frustration. And nice to see last night’s response.
Between a rock and a soft place: Including last night, Radko Gudas has played some brutal games of late, and there may be some underlying reasons. After serving a 10-game suspension for slashing the neck of Winnipeg’s Mathieu Perrault in November, Gudas has played more carefully and arguably less effectively. Opponents, sensing this, have taken more than a fair share of liberties in playing him, and his pleas to officials, now a common sight, have been met with unsympathetic stoicism. I’ve even detected a few smirks.
Gudas was victimized on Montreal’s tying goal late in the second period, first losing a puck Nolan Patrick had battled hard to regain, then leaving his feet way too soon as Andrew Shaw strolled around him with the puck and fired it past Brian Elliott.
Gudas though, had a stellar night when compared to Montreal’s Tomas Plekanec. The 35-year-old second line center committed three penalties, two of which led to power-play goals. The other side of a hat trick.
The Nolan watch: Besides the scoresheet, of which Nolan Patrick is appearing more frequently these days, there are little plays all around the ice to suggest the impact of extensive core muscle surgery he underwent last summer is dissipating.
On his first shift last night, Patrick fended off two Canadiens players along the sideboards of the offensive zone, ultimately winning the puck battle and pushing it forward. The play was inconsequential, the effort was not. Two months ago, Patrick would not have won that battle.
Later in that period Patrick bulled his way to the front of the net and tried to jam a puck in before he was toppled by an assemblage of Montreal players.
Oh, one last thing: Brian Elliott was strong and steady in stopping 25 shots. Of the three goals he allowed, two came after egregious errors were committed in front of him. The other came with Montreal playing two men up, with Scott Laughton off for holding and Carey Price pulled for an extra attacker.
Elliott even assisted on Ivan Provorov’s end-to-end empty netter in the final seconds
Stats aside, Elliott gives the Flyers a steadiness they don’t have when he’s not in there. It’s intangible. But it’s real.