With speed, skill and general skating ability coming to the forefront since the lockout imposed rule changes (or at least increased enforcement), the NHL has become a young man’s game again. Just look at all the best players right now; from Sidney Crosby to Alex Ovechkin and Patrick Kane, almost all of the league’s marquee stars haven’t hit their mid-20s yet.
So perhaps that takes some of the shock away from 22-year old Claude Giroux’s breakout playoff performance. He’s third on the Philadelphia Flyers during the playoffs with an impressive 17 points. But beyond his production, Giroux is receiving praise from his teammates for his big-game performances.
Giroux is even earning accolades from veterans such as Ian Laperriere, whose remarks evoke memories of people putting straws in people’s milkshakes.
“I wish I was drinking his water,” Laperriere, a gritty, energy-line forward, told NHL.com. “This kid is unreal. He’s shifty and he is such a player. The best thing about him is the bigger the game is the better he is and that is rare for a 22-year-old.
“He’s one of those kids, you think he did the greatest move one day and he does a better move on the next shift. The bigger the game is, the bigger his game is and that is good news for us.”
If that’s true, then expect Giroux to put up big numbers in the Stanley Cup finals.
The Boston Bruins keep flipping the script.
In Wednesday’s case, it swerved to a “Cinderella” story, as little-known forward Frank Vatrano scored two of Boston’s three goals – including the overtime clincher – as the B’s beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 (OT).
Here’s his first goal of the night:
While this is his overtime game-winner:
It wasn’t a perfect night for the 21-year-old, yet it may have been a convincing one.
The Bruins continue to begin a month on a sour note before ending up with impressive sprees.
October: 0-3-0 start, finished month with four straight wins and victories in six of seven contests.
November: 0-3-0 start, losses in four of five; currently on a four-game winning strek with victories in five of six.
Boston faces a challenge in closing this month out against the Rangers on Friday, and it’s possible that this trend may continue, as they begin December with a three-game road trip through Western Canada.
More than anything else, the safest bet with the Bruins is for ups and downs.
Controversy just seems to find the Pittsburgh Penguins. Credit Sidney Crosby & Co. for responding with a win on Wednesday.
Crosby generated two pretty goals, including this slam-dunk slapper:
… While Evgeni Malkin‘s overtime-winner stood as the Penguins managed a 4-3 overtime win against the St. Louis Blues tonight.
(You can see Malkin’s OT-clincher in the video above this post.)
Will this win and strong performance from Crosby silence murmurs about his relationship with Mario Lemieux? Probably not, yet it likely turns the volume down in some ways, including killing the “Is he struggling because of distractions” storyline.
You know, at least for a little while. Maybe.
Claude Giroux isn’t the nastiest, most physical captain the Philadelphia Flyers have employed. Even so, he can be feisty at times.
Wednesday showed that, as he clearly wasn’t happy with an earlier Nick Leddy hit, and eventually got the New York Islanders defenseman to drop his gloves.
You can see the fight and the check that inspired that scrap in the video above.
It’s the fourth fight Giroux has been a part of, with his most recent adversary being may his most bitter rival.
Not a heavyweight bout between Giroux and Leddy, mind you, but sometimes it’s amusing to soak in such a rare sight.
Update: The fight may have inspired the Islanders more than the Flyers, as they bested Philly 3-1 on Wednesday.
Carter Hutton is getting something that might make fellow Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne jealous: goal support.
Still, there was at least one moment where Rinne was likely happy to be on the bench, as Hutton was left flipping during this collision with Buffalo Sabres forward Marcus Foligno:
Remarkably, Hutton remained in the game.
If you’re the type who loves adding to your “hockey players are tough” files, put this under the goalies section.
Check out this incredible shot of that moment:
Update: The Predators held off the Buffalo Sabres to win 3-2.