The NHL suspended Philadelphia’s Claude Giroux for Game 5 on Tuesday after he delivered what Brendan Shanahan described as a “late, reckless hit to the head” of New Jersey’s Dainius Zubrus.
Zubrus went down, but was able to stay in the game and, unlike Giroux, he’s expected to play on Tuesday.
Given that Giroux is the leading scorer in the playoffs, we don’t really need to go into detail about how this suspension could hurt the Philadelphia Flyers. However, even before Giroux’s punishment was announced, Zubrus was shrugging off the possibility.
“Honestly, it doesn’t change our preparation for the game either way,” Zubrus said.
That might be true, but it could change the outcome of Tuesday’s contest. The Devils have a commanding 3-1 series lead, but Philadelphia’s Danny Briere knows that they “have to move forward and have to find a way to win.”
In some ways, this parallels Game 4 of the Philadelphia-Pittsburgh first round series. At the time, the Penguins had their backs against the wall and then it was announced that James Neal would be forced to serve a one-game suspension. However, Pittsburgh – like Philadelphia – has no shortage of offensive weapons and they responded with a 10-3 blowout victory.
Of course, given how that series ended for Pittsburgh, that’s probably not the comparison that Flyers’ fans are fishing for right now.