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Pens’ Orpik on Giroux: “He was the best player on the ice”

Claude Giroux

Philadelphia Flyers’ Claude Giroux (28) carries the puck in the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2011. The Flyers won 4-2. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)


Following a season-ending loss to the Flyers, Brooks Orpik wasted no time identifying the primary cause of Pittsburgh’s demise:

Claude Giroux.

“He was the best player on the ice,” the Pens defenseman said. “But I don’t think we were surprised by that.

“Maybe two years ago, we’d be surprised.”

Giroux was absolutely massive in Game 6 -- he flattened Sidney Crosby early with a message-sending hit, scored the opening goal, assisted on Scott Hartnell’s game winner and Erik Gustafsson’s insurance marker. The 24-year-old finished with three points, five shots, almost 25 minutes of ice time and a ton of respect from his head coach.

“His game tonight was monstrous,” Flyers bench boss Peter Laviolette said. “When your best player makes a statement like that ... Claude Giroux led us to the second round.”

In a telling anecdote, Laviolette told reporters Giroux asked to start the game --"I don’t know who you plan on starting, but I want that first shift,” he said -- then went out and flattened Crosby. It was a move that impressed Laviolette enough to shower Giroux with praise.

“He’s the best player in the world,” Laviolette said.