Flyers

Flyers

For the first time in his career, Claude Giroux merely blended in.

He had never been held without a goal in a Stanley Cup Playoffs — until now.

In a series packed with firepower, Giroux tallied just one assist for one point, his lowest point total ever in 11 career postseason series. The Flyers’ offense sputtered from start to finish, scoring just six goals in six games of a best-of-seven first-round playoff series loss to the Washington Capitals.

It came to an end Sunday at the Wells Fargo Center when the Flyers lost, 1-0 (see game recap).

So did Giroux’s worst playoffs.

“Not good enough,” he said. “You know, I’m pretty frustrated with myself. Got to find a way, doesn’t matter how it is. You’ve got to find a way.”

Giroux didn’t look like his playmaking self, often passive and firing just 10 shots on goal in the series.

It brought up the inevitable question: was he playing injured?

“No,” he said. “Everybody has little bruises here and there but I’m good.”

The Flyers’ captain entered this postseason with 61 points (23 goals, 38 assists) in 57 career playoff games. His previous low point total for a postseason came in his rookie season when he had five (two goals, three assists) in six games.

Combine Giroux’s struggles with those of the entire Flyers offense and it’s a wonder how the orange and black lasted six games with the NHL’s best.

Giroux, Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn and Jakub Voracek — the Flyers’ four leading scorers during the regular season — finished the series with a combined six points and one goal.

Three Capitals finished with at least six points apiece — Nicklas Backstrom (seven), Marcus Johansson (six) and John Carlson (six). Alex Ovechkin also recorded five.

Washington head coach Barry Trotz trusted his matchups and was rewarded.

“I think we challenged our top guys,” he said. “We were OK with the Backstrom-Giroux head-to-head. I think the [Karl Alzner-Matt Niskanen] pair had an outstanding series, as well as [Brooks] Orpik early in the series.

“We were very comfortable with most of the matchups, that’s why I don’t think you saw them change. And that was a challenge to our top guys. Our top guys go head-to-head and we were hoping our depth and special teams would be the difference-maker for us.”

What he hoped for is what transpired.

The Capitals had nine players compile multiple points in the series compared to the Flyers’ four. While the Flyers' power play never got on track and went 1 for 24 in the series (see story), the Capitals' man advantage finished 8 for 27.

“Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds and Voracek and Schenn, they’re not an easy group to shut down,” Trotz said. “So it was good on us for getting them shut down, but at the same time, it was not an easy task.”

The Flyers scrapped and clawed to the make the playoffs and qualified on April 9, the second-to-last day of the regular season. The Capitals coasted, clinching at Game 69 on March 15.

The Flyers may have been running on empty.

“It’s been a hard push for us. We haven’t been able to take our foot off the gas, but there won’t be one guy in our room that rests on that,” Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said. “We came into this series to win the series. We came into today’s game to win Game 6 and move on to Game 7. We came up short of that.”

With his top line, Hakstol said it’s beyond numbers.

“I guess the easiest way to look at it is you look at stats, right? I don’t buy that,” he said. “Those guys were our leaders and they played extremely hard throughout the series. Sure, the results aren’t exactly what they would want and as the end result for our team with a loss tonight is not the result that we wanted, but those guys have been absolute warriors for us.”