Following a season-ending loss to the Flyers, Brooks Orpik wasted no time identifying the primary cause of Pittsburgh’s demise:
“He was the best player on the ice,” the Pens defenseman said. “But I don’t think we were surprised by that.
“Maybe two years ago, we’d be surprised.”
Giroux was absolutely massive in Game 6 — he flattened Sidney Crosby early with a message-sending hit, scored the opening goal, assisted on Scott Hartnell’s game winner and Erik Gustafsson’s insurance marker. The 24-year-old finished with three points, five shots, almost 25 minutes of ice time and a ton of respect from his head coach.
“His game tonight was monstrous,” Flyers bench boss Peter Laviolette said. “When your best player makes a statement like that … Claude Giroux led us to the second round.”
In a telling anecdote, Laviolette told reporters Giroux asked to start the game –“I don’t know who you plan on starting, but I want that first shift,” he said — then went out and flattened Crosby. It was a move that impressed Laviolette enough to shower Giroux with praise.
“He’s the best player in the world,” Laviolette said.