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This is not why Claude Giroux left Flyers for Florida



Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers

The NHL has been running commercials about the Stanley Cup, and former Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux is featured in one of them.

In the commercial, some members of the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning are shown, along with an explanation: “They want one more together.”

The Florida Panthers’ Giroux is then flashed on the screen with a simple message: “He just wants one.”

It may happen at some point before his brilliant career is over, but it will take a minor miracle to occur this season.

Giroux’s Panthers dropped a 5-1 decision Sunday in Tampa and fell into a 3-0 series hole.

Just before the trade deadline, Giroux agreed to be traded to only one team — Florida. It seemed like a great choice at the time, but the long-time Flyer’s dream of winning his first Stanley Cup now is an extreme longshot.

Brunette mimics Murray

After Sunday’s loss, Florida coach Andrew Brunette sounded a little like Philadelphia Flyers coach Terry Murray when he talked about a “choking situation.” That was after the Flyers fell behind the Detroit Red Wings, three games to none, in the 1997 Stanley Cup Final.

Brunette said the Lightning, despite having won the last two titles, have been hungrier than his players.

“They have more will and more desire than we do,” he said.

He didn’t use the c-word, but it sure seemed implied.

Besides having more desire, the Lightning have the better coach, Jon Cooper, and the better goalie – by far. Andre Vasilevskiy has outplayed Florida’s Sergei Bobrovsky by a huge margin.

The Lightning, who blocked 19 shots Sunday, can wrap up the series with a home win Monday (TNT) at 7 p.m.

“They’re a tough team to come back on,” Brunette said. “And we kind of fell behind this whole series and we haven’t found that extra gear from behind, which we found all year.”

The Panthers had a league-high 29 comeback wins in the regular season, when they topped the NHL with 122 points.

No. 2 scorer

Giroux, 34, acquired from the Philadelphia Flyers two months ago, has done his part. He is Florida’s second-leading scorer (eight points) in the Panthers’ nine playoff games. Giroux was superb in 18 regular-season games with Florida as he collected 23 points.

But the Panthers’ offense, which led the NHL in the regular season, has dried up in the conference semifinals.

In Sunday’s loss, Giroux was point-less and, thanks to two empty-net goals by Tampa, was minus-3. Florida stars Giroux, Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander “Sasha” Barkov have as many goals in this series as any of the Philadelphia Flyers who are on the golf course.

That would be zero.

Tampa has outscored the Cats, 11-3, in the first three games. And the Lightning have done it without arguably their best all-around player, top-line center Brayden Point, who hasn’t played in the series because of an injury.

The Lightning’s playoff experience has been the difference in this surprisingly one-sided series.

As for a comeback attempt, well, history tells us Florida has a two percent chance to win four straight. Florida is now plus-920 to win the series, according to FanDuel. The Lightning are minus-1,800.

In NHL history, only four of 201 teams have won a playoff series when down, three games to none.

Giroux was on one of the teams that did it — the 2010 Flyers against Boston.

Can Lightning (excuse the expression) strike twice?

If it does, it sounds like even Brunette would be shocked.

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