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5 observations on Flyers’ win for tearful Giroux, including an intriguing ‘what-if’

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Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers
Flyers captain Claude Giroux as he prepares to play in his 1,000th career game Thursday against Nashville. Photo: Zack Hill.

The Wifi wasn’t working correctly, probably because the Wells Fargo Center wasn’t used to having so many cell-phone-using fans in it, and it interrupted service Thursday night.

But for the Philadelphia Flyers, everything else was working in the early part of the game. And in the latter stages, too.

Joel Farabee redirected Kevin Hayes’ slick feed with 1:19 left to give the Flyers an electric 5-4 win over Nashville.

Yes, it became a joyous night for Claude Giroux to reach the 1,000-game plateau.

The crowd and the team showered Giroux with love on the night he became the second player in franchise history to reach the 1,000-mark with Philly.

The Flyers’ Zack MacEwen won a first-period fight, and it kept the crowd — perhaps the liveliest of the season — invested in the action.

But Nashville scored three straight goals to turn a 3-1 deficit into a 4-3 lead.

The Flyers thought they tied the game on Derick Brassard’s goal with 6:32 remaining in regulation, but Nashville challenged the call. The replay showed Cam Atkinson knocked down the puck with a high stick on the play that led to the score. No goal.

No matter. Rasmus Ristolainen set up Hayes’ hard-working, dirty goal in front with 4:15 left in regulation, knotting the score at 4-4 and setting the stage for Farabee.

After the game, chants of “Roooooo” filled the Wells Fargo, and, one at a time, Giroux’s teammates lined up to embrace their captain. Giroux then took a victory lap and waved to the crowd as he wiped away tears.

It felt like he was saying goodbye.

Some observations:

1. I wonder if things would have been different for Giroux if the Flyers had remained healthy.

Giroux is expected to be dealt before Monday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline, but it could have been a very different situation.

If, for instance, Ryan Ellis, Sean Couturier and Kevin Hayes had been healthy the entire season, the Flyers might be in the thick of the playoff race and looking to give Giroux a modest extension.

If, if, if….

Now it appears the long-time captain will waive his no-movement clause and be dealt for the chance to play for a Stanley Cup contender.

“I never expected to be in this situation,” Giroux said with a tinge of sadness the other day.

On Thursday, he became the 71st player in NHL history to play 1,000 games with the same team.

Giroux won’t travel to Ottawa to play in Friday’s game, a sure sign he will soon be dealt.

 

2. Zack MacEwen knows how to ignite the fans … and his team.

MacEwen pounded Michael McCarron in a first-period fight. Just 44 seconds later, the Flyers took a 1-0 lead as Travis Sanheim scored on a backhander in front.

It was difficult to tell which roar was louder — the one MacEwen received when he knocked McCarron to the ice, or the one the emerging Sanheim got when he scored his -fifth goal of the season.

3. With the Flyers out of contention, Mike Yeo made a smart move with defenseman Cam York.

York was moved to the first pairing, alongside Ivan Provorov, and put on the power-play unit. Hey, the rest of the season should be all about experimenting and finding out things for the future.

Bring up right winger Wade Allison from the Phantoms when he’s 100 percent healthy. Promote goalie Felix Sandstrom and defenseman Egor Zamula. Et cetera.

York gave the Philadelphia Flyers a 2-1 lead when he scored a power-play goal with 18:38 left in the second. Less than three minutes later, James van Riemsdyk (14th goal) made it 3-1 as beat goalie Juuse Saros during a wild scramble in front.

4. Kevin Hayes had his best game since he returned from his groin surgery.

The 6-foot-5 center scored the tying goal with 4:15 left, then set up Farabee’s game-winner with 1:19 remaining. He had eight hits and was plus-3.

Hayes said the loud, energetic fans pushed the Flyers. His teammates agreed.

“They came out to show their support for our captain,” Carter Hart said.

“I thought the crowd was amazing tonight,” Yeo said. “Lifted our group up incredibly, and I thought they did an incredible job of celebrating G and everything he’s done for this organization.”

5. You just knew Phil Myers would score his first goal against his former teammates, right?

The big defenseman scored on a blast from the left side that appeared to deflect off a Flyer and past Hart, cutting the deficit to 3-2 with14:44 to go in the second.

The Flyers sent Myers and Nolan Patrick to Nashville to get Ellis in the summer. Patrick was then dealt to Vegas in the three-team trade.

The once-promising Myers has had a difficult season and has been a healthy scratch more times than he has played. But it seems like ex-Flyers come alive against their former team, so it wasn’t shocking that he scored his first goal in 27 games, and that Nick Cousins, another ex-Flyer, got an assist on the tally.

Ellis, by the way, was in the press box Thursday. He has only played four games because of a lower-body injury — believed to be in the hip|groin area — and the Flyers are trying to figure out whether he needs surgery.

Breakaways

Giroux had two shots, three hits and was minus-1 in 17:47 as Yeo didn’t play him as much because he was protecting him from getting injured before the trade deadline. … Before the game, Giroux’s dad, Raymond, read the lineup to the players in the locker room. … Wayne Simmonds, Danny Briere, Simon Gagne, and Jake Voracek received huge ovations as they were shown in scoreboard videos saluting Giroux before the game. … Josi had three assists. … Travis Konecny had five shots, giving him 16 in the last three games. … Sanheim had a goal, an assist, a plus-3 rating, four shots, and five blocks. … Giroux was presented with an engraved silver stick, Tiffany crystal, artwork featuring his greatest moments; his teammates gave him an engraved  Rolex watch, and they presented his wife, Ryanne, with an engraved crystal tennis bracelet, and they gave their sons, Gavin and Palmer, two engraved mini silver sticks. The team’s equipment and training staff gave Giroux artwork of his memorable pose after his game-winning goal in the 2019 Stadium Series game against Pittsburgh at the Linc.

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