2010 Stanley Cup Finals, Game 3: Giroux perfect example of Flyers' resiliency

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Giroux.jpgIf we didn’t know it before, then we sure as heck know it now: the
Philadelphia Flyers are one of the most the resilient teams we’ve ever
seen in the postseason. At the heart of this team is a group of
determined forwards, who may not be the biggest stars in the NHL and
certainly don’t get as much attention as Jeff Carter, Dan Carcillo or
Mike Richards, but who are more important to the Flyers’ success than
any other.

Claude Giroux, Danny Briere and Ville Leino have lifted this team up
and placed them squarely on their own backs. In every deep postseason
run you need role players to step up and play the best hockey of their
lives, but I don’t think anyone anticipated the level these three have
reached.

They don’t play together, at least not all of the time, but these
three have been the difference in the postseason for the Flyers. Giroux,
who scored just 16 goals in 82 regular season games, now has 8 goals
and 17 points in the playoffs. He’s scored big goal after big goal, and
none has ever been bigger than his tipped goal that came 5:59 into the
first overtime.

With that tip, coming off a great play by Matt Carle at the point and
perfect anticipation by Giroux, the Flyers avoided a 3-0 hole in the
series and made things very interesting heading into Game 4.

“It’s huge. I don’t think guys want to do a comeback again from
3-0.” Giroux said. “So it was tough losing the first two games. If we
want to give us a chance to win the Series, we need to win this game
tonight. The message was pretty clear before the game, and guys showed
up.”

Giroux played some inspiring hockey against the Bruins and the
Canadiens, but had disappeared a bit in the first two games of the
series. There was no doubt that if the Flyers would pull off a comeback,
they’d need better play from the players a bit farther down the depth
chart. Giroux says that’s something he and his teammates were focused on
after the two games in Chicago.

“Anytime you’re not producing or playing well, you are just going to
keep it simple and go back just working hard. I think we did that, and
we tried to win as many battles as we could.”

Coach Laviolette says that Giroux was perhaps pressing too much,
playing too tight as he played in his first Stanley Cup finals. With the
series now back at home, the Flyers focused on just playing their game
in front of their home crowd, something that seemed to help Giroux in
the end.

“We talked about just having some fun tonight, come out and letting
everything roll,” Laviolette said after the game. “Go after him, and I
think he took that advice, because he was smiling all day. He came to
the rink and went out and played a great game. Sometimes you need to
loosen up a little bit. He’s a talented kid.”

Giroux, Briere and Leino all made tremendous plays tonight, but for
them it was just the same thing they’ve done all postseason long. None
of the players seemed overly excited about the win or their plays,
instead wanting to immediately focus on Game 4 and evening up the
series.

Leino in particular has come to life for the Flyers, and is perhaps
the biggest surprise of the playoffs. After the game he was soft spoken
and humble, saying that the Flyers “know exactly what we have to do” and
that for them this is just business as usual.

All postseason long the Flyers have found ways to overcome adversity
of any and every sort, but it’s something the Flyers have become
accustomed to. Laviolette believes that his team is at it’s best when
their backs are against the the wall.

“It’s been for a long time. Like I said this morning, 2-0 for us is
comfortable. We’re okay with that. We know how to battle through it.
We knew how important the game was tonight. Once we wake up
tomorrow morning, we know we have to hold serve on home ice. I think
the guys will be fine with that.”

This morning, the Flyers were one hell of a confident bunch and it
seemed as if they reveled in the fact they were facing a must-win
situation. They were calm and business like, yet loose and never acted
like a team that was down two games in the Stanley Cup finals. Yet no
matter what the circumstances, no matter how matter of fact the Flyers
are about this win, there’s no doubting how big that goal was for Claude
Giroux. This is one he’s going to remember for a long time, yet he’s
still focused on the task at hand.

“It’s obviously a big goal. It’s probably my biggest goal in my
career,” he said with a grin.

“I’m happy I was able to do that. As quick as we can put this
game behind us and be ready for game 4, it’s going to be huge. There’s a
lot of emotion tonight. But I think it’s important that we just focus
and be ready for game 4.”

Stanley Cup Final referees: McCauley, O’Halloran, O’Rourke, Sutherland

BUFFALO, NY - DECEMBER 13:  Referee Dan O'Halloran #13 holds up a face-off between the Buffalo Sabres and the Ottawa Senators during their NHL game at First Niagara Center on December 13, 2011 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Dave Sandford Getty Images)
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From the NHL:

refs

Pretty veteran crew, including three returnees from last year’s final.

Per the NHL, O’Halloran and O’Rourke will call tonight’s series opener from Consol.

After advancing to Cup final, DeBoer had Sharks fans coming up to him with ‘tears in their eyes’

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 29: Head coach Peter DeBoer addresses the media during the NHL Stanley Cup Final Media Day at Consol Energy Center on May 29, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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PITTSBURGH — When Pete DeBoer was hired to coach the San Jose Sharks, he wasn’t totally cognizant of how much heartbreak the fan base had experienced throughout the years.

Now he knows.

“First year in the community, I didn’t realize kind of the baggage that was carried around,” DeBoer said this morning ahead of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. “Twenty-five-year season-ticket holders coming up to you with tears in their eyes and crying.”

The Sharks, of course, have never been this far in the playoffs. Prior to this year, they’d made it three times to the Western Conference Final, losing each time.

More painful were the first-round exits. Like in 2009 when they won the Presidents’ Trophy and got knocked out by the Ducks, and two years ago when they led the Kings 3-0 before dropping four straight.

It was only after the Sharks beat the Blues that DeBoer fully realized the “gravity of what they’ve been through” as fans in San Jose, and “how important this is to them.”

Not that he’s satisfied with getting this far.

“The business at hand now is to get off on the right foot, plant the right seeds for this series, impose our game,” he said. “Every series is the same — it’s whatever team can impose their game on the other team the quickest and for the longest. That’s our goal here tonight.”

Related: For Pete DeBoer, San Jose was the perfect landing spot

Kopitar will play for Slovenia in Olympic qualifiers

SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 13: Anze Kopitar #11 of Slovenia skates against Russia during the Men's Ice Hockey Preliminary Round Group A game on day six of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Bolshoy Ice Dome on February 13, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar will spend part of his offseason trying to help Slovenia qualify for the Olympics.

RTV Slovenia has the story here.

The qualification games will be played September 1-4 in Minsk. Slovenia is in a group with Belarus, Denmark and Poland. The winner of the group will qualify for the Olympics.

The NHL reportedly has no issue with Kopitar’s participation, even though the league has yet to commit to sending its players to Pyeongchang.

Slovenia made its Olympic debut in ice hockey at the 2014 Games in Sochi.

Kopitar will also represent Team Europe at the 2016 World Cup later in September.

Related: Slovenia beats Slovakia for historic win

Zubrus in, Nieto likely out for Sharks in Stanley Cup Final opener

ST LOUIS, MO - MAY 15:  Dainius Zubrus #9 of the San Jose Sharks skates against Alexander Steen #20 of the St. Louis Blues in Game One of the Western Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center on May 15, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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PITTSBURGH — Matt Nieto is healthy, and ready to go.

But it doesn’t look like he’ll go tonight.

The San Jose Sharks are unlikely to make any lineup changes for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final in Pittsburgh — at Monday’s optional morning skate, Nieto stayed out late with the extras while the guy he’d (presumably) replace in the lineup, Dainius Zubrus, told NHL.com he was in.

Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer wouldn’t reveal any lineup decisions during his morning media availability, instead talking up both Nieto (for his speed) and Zubrus (for his “heavy” game), adding he liked the versatility the two give the club on a night-by-night basis.

Nieto suffered an upper-body injury in Game 6 of the Nashville series, and missed all of the Western Conference Final.

Prior to getting hurt, he had three points in 11 games — this after a regular season in which he scored eight goals and 17 points in 67 games.