On Sunday, the Flyers aroused the optimism of their fan base by releasing a surprise photograph of concussed Claude Giroux practicing in a non-contact jersey. Not only did the team’s star forward and leading scorer make the trip to Colorado, but was in competitive spirits and working at a high level.
With the picture and accounts of the practice came an overwhelming optimistic exhale from the Flyers’ community, who have suffered through a tidal wave of bad news in the past couple weeks. From Chris Pronger to Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier and of course, Giroux, injuries have hit the team hard and in succession.
The worst, as Giroux zipped around the Pepsi Center, seems to have passed.
But regardless of the appearance, concussions, more accurately, post-concussion syndrome, is a sneaky and unpredictable terror. Just when you think it’s better, it attacks once again, sending the player back to square one. It can be as frustrating as it is debilitating.
So given its shifty nature, it should be noted that the Flyers and Giroux are not out of the woods yet.
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It could be felt across Philadelphia.
The type of fear and trepidation that only a head trauma injury could bring.
Late in the second period of Saturday night’s 5-2 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning, an ill-fated and misplayed body check by Claude Giroux put him in the direct contact with teammate Wayne Simmonds.
Simmonds did his best to dodge Giroux, but in trying to leap over him, kneed the Flyers’ leading scorer in the back of his head. Giroux stumbled off the ice and shortly after was sent into the locker room.
He did not return to the game as a precaution according to general manager Paul Holmgren. He will be re-evaluated on a day-to-day basis.
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Easily the most detested, scathed and ridiculed player the Flyers have faced since 2005, Sidney Crosby has played the part of shining white knight to Philadelphia’s dark side bullies with perfection.
With his nice-boy image and his sparkling reputation around the league, the 24-year-old is everything the Flyers aren’t. As the poster-child for the new NHL, he is the Flyers’ antithesis. He is their most recognizable nemesis.
So when the news broke on Monday that Crosby’s concussion symptoms have continued to haunt him and that he might not be cleared to participate by the start of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ training camp, it isn’t just the NHL and the Penguins who should groan, Flyers fans should be there too.
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With the 2011 Winter Classic at Heinz Field between the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins less than a day away, hockey fans everywhere prepare themselves to hear the consistent over-fluffing of stars Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, mixed with the forced discussion of what a fierce, and mostly contrived, rivalry the two teams possess with one another.
But as the Pittsburgh Post Gazette found out, despite what the media and league try to strong-arm into the New Year’s Day game, the Penguins’ players know that their animosity with the Capitals takes a backseat to one a little more personal.
“I think Philly will always be No. 1,” said Pittsburgh defenseman Brooks Orpik. “But just from the time I’ve been here, I would say probably Washington and Detroit (are next in line).”
It’s going to be Winter Classic times two in 2011.
According to a report by TSN, the NHL is expected to announce two Winter Classic games in 2011 starting with the Pittsburgh Penguins against the Washington Capitals at Heinz Field on New Year’s Day and the Calgary Flames versus the Montreal Canadiens in a place to be determined and a time to be determined in February. The official announcement is expected to come on Friday.
The early season rivalry tour continues for the Flyers tonight as they take on the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins for the first time this season. And if you’re wondering if the Orange and Black are still unhappy about getting ejected from the postseason for the second year in a row by the Pens — just look at the lineup dressed for tonight.
Ken Warren of the Ottawa Citizen caught up with second-year Flyers’ forward Claude Giroux, who expressed his excitement for the upcoming season.
“Our team didn’t finish really well, but personally it went pretty good,” Giroux said, while playing street hockey with local children near his home of Orleans, Ontario. “And hopefully this year I’ll get a chance to prove myself. I think the team next year looks pretty good and I’m pretty excited about that.”
And who can blame him?