Flyers

On day of Super Bowl party, Claude Giroux shows his Philly mettle

On day of Super Bowl party, Claude Giroux shows his Philly mettle

BOX SCORE

On a sunny but chilly day in February, Philadelphia went gaga over its beloved Eagles winning their first-ever Super Bowl title.

Not long after the parade died down, Claude Giroux hit the Wells Fargo Center ice, a common sight for the past 10 years.

Motivated and rejuvenated, Giroux then showed why he's still a fixture in this city, a face that goes up among the biggest when it comes to the Philly sports scene.

The 30-year-old captain was a must-see star Thursday night, spinning together a three-point game with a goal and two beautiful assists to push the Flyers past the Montreal Canadiens, 5-3 (see observations).

Carey Price, a six-time All-Star and 2014-15 Vezina Trophy winner, saw a force. When the Canadiens' goalie was asked for the difference in Thursday's game, he didn't have to wax poetic.

"Claude Giroux," Price said simply. "He played a pretty good game tonight. I think he was the difference-maker.

"He's definitely got great vision. He's pretty shifty out there. He always seems to be in a good position to make a play to multiple players."

Giroux made play after play, especially when the Flyers needed it.

First, he helped them take a 1-0 lead early in the second period when he set up Travis Konecny with a terrific lead pass through two Canadiens. Later in the stanza, he erased a shorthanded goal off a Jakub Voracek turnover by regaining the advantage at 2-1 with a tally of his own. And then, to put the Flyers ahead once more — and for good — Giroux found Voracek with a cross-ice feed to claim a 3-2 third-period edge en route to a second straight victory (see highlights).

Giroux, never exactly satisfied with himself, was not pleased with his play last time out, despite a 2-1 overtime win serving as the final result Tuesday.

Did this performance meet his personal standards?

"A little bit better," he said. "When you help the team win, that's what you're trying to do. You're trying to do something to help the team and I think everybody did a good job tonight."

Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol witnessed what he's been seeing a lot of on Giroux's redemption tour.

"It's not always about points, but G played well tonight and he made plays tonight. I think that's what he was probably most hard on himself in regards to after the game in Carolina," Hakstol said. "No question tonight, he went out and made plays and was a difference-maker for our team. That's what you want to see. He's pretty hard on himself, maybe overly so. But he felt he could play better and he went out and did that tonight."

Giroux has been substantially better from 2016-17 when he posted a career low in goals (14) for a full season and a third straight drop-off in points (58). In 54 games this season, he already has more goals (16), assists (45) and points (61) than he did last year over 82 games.

"Everybody knows in that room that he wears his heart on his sleeve," Hakstol said. "He expects a lot out of the people around him, but he puts himself at the head of the line. After a good win for our team, he had a lot of praise for his teammates and felt like he needed to be a little bit better. That's something that's pretty well-respected inside of the locker room."

Much of that has to do with being held accountable, not just by himself.

"When it's not going your way, when you're not playing the way you want to, you've got to challenge yourself," Giroux said. "Coaches do a good job and even teammates — I've got Jake and Wayne (Simmonds) yelling at me a couple times and that kind of gets you going a little bit."

Giroux's push has the Flyers in good standing for more postseason drive in Philadelphia. The Flyers sit three points ahead in the Eastern Conference's first wild-card spot and just one point behind the New Jersey Devils for third place in the busy Metropolitan Division.

With 28 games to go, No. 28 must be the guy for the Flyers — and Thursday was further proof he still very much is.

2018 NHL draft position preview — Left wingers

ap_nhl_draft_brady_tkachuk.jpg
AP Images

2018 NHL draft position preview — Left wingers

We began our 2018 NHL draft position previews with a look at the top draft-eligible centers. This draft is top-heavy at wing and defense. We continue our previews with a look at left wingers.

Filip Zadina, 6-0/195, Halifax (QMJHL)
Zadina, who finished as the third-best North American skater by NHL Central Scouting, led all QMJHL rookies and was tied for seventh among all players in 2017-18 with 82 points. He won the Mike Bossy Trophy as the league’s best professional prospect. Playing for the Czech Republic, Zadina was named to the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship All-Star team, scoring eight points in seven games. Hard-working winger with an elite shot, future top-liner.

Draft projection: Top three

Brady Tkachuk, 6-3/196, Boston University (NCAA)
The son of USA Hockey Hall of Famer Keith Tkachuk and brother of Matthew Tkachuk (Flames), Brady Tkachuk checks in as the second-best North American skater by Central Scouting. Had eight goals and 31 points in 40 games during his freshman season at Boston University and added three goals and nine points in seven games during the world juniors. He plays a physical game much like his dad and brother but has a little more finesse to it.

Draft projection: Top five

Joel Farabee, 6-0/164, USNTDP
Farabee finished as the 12th-rated North American skater by Central Scouting. Possesses excellent speed and a strong shot and plays an effective two-way game. A little undersized but the game has changed, so that shouldn’t be a major issue. He had 15 goals and 40 points in 26 games for Team USA in the USHL in 2017-18, and 33 goals and 76 points in 64 games for the USA U-18 team in the USA Hockey National Team Development Program.

Draft projection: Between Nos. 10-18

Grigori Denisenko, 5-11/176, Yarolsavl Jr (Russia)
Denisenko saw a three-spot drop from the Central Scouting midterm rankings to the final, finishing as the seventh-best European skater. He’s gifted with the puck and makes plays, but he has a bit of a reputation as an inconsistent player. The Russian factor may scare teams away. Had nine goals and 22 points in 31 games in the MHL and played four games in the KHL playoffs. On talent alone, Denisenko is among the best in this year’s class.

Draft projection: Mid-to-late first round

Blake McLaughlin, 6-0/162, Chicago (USHL)
McLaughlin checks in as the 24th-rated North American skater by Central Scouting. Another American prospect among the top draft-eligible left wingers, McLaughlin’s best attribute is his shot, though he’s an excellent skater. He finished the 2017-18 season with the Chicago Steel as nearly a point-per-game player, scoring 23 goals and 52 points in 54 games. He’s headed to the University of Minnesota in the fall. Could squeak into late first round but probably a second-rounder.

Draft projection: Early second round

NBC Sports Philadelphia+ to air Lehigh Valley Phantoms Eastern Conference Finals Games

justsports-photography-mike-vecchione-phantoms.jpg
JustSports Photography

NBC Sports Philadelphia+ to air Lehigh Valley Phantoms Eastern Conference Finals Games

Philadelphia, PA (May 18, 2018) — NBC Sports Philadelphia announced today the network will air the American Hockey League Eastern Conference Finals games featuring the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and the Toronto Marlies. Games Three through Five will air on NBC Sports Philadelphia+ at 7 p.m.
 
May 23 - Toronto Marlies at Lehigh Valley Phantoms, Game 3 – 7pm on NBC Sports Philadelphia+

May 25** — Toronto Marlies at Lehigh Valley Phantoms, Game 4 – 7pm on NBC Sports Philadelphia+

May 26*** — Toronto Marlies at Lehigh Valley Phantoms, Game 5 – 7pm on NBC Sports Philadelphia+, *if necessary
 
** Philadelphia Soul will air on NBC Sports Philadelphia. 

*** The Philadelphia Phillies game will air on NBC Sports Philadelphia, regardless if there is a Game 5 or not.

Atlantic Division Champions for the 2017-18 season, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, proud American Hockey League affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers, have advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals where they will face off against the Toronto Marlies, AHL affiliate of the Toronto Maple Leafs. The winner of the best-of-seven series will then advance to the 2018 Calder Cup Finals. After posting the AHL’s second-most wins (47) and second-most standings points (105), the top-seeded Phantoms eliminated the Providence Bruins in four games (3-1) in the opening round before defeating the Charlotte Checkers in five games (4-1) in the Atlantic Division Finals — a series which included the historic longest game in AHL history.