Claude Giroux stood there. His mouth throbbing. His lip swollen. The dried blood changing the red in his beard to a different shade.
Take a puck to the face, and these things happen.
But there he was, trying to talk through the swelling, and explain what is wrong with his team – a team that just 19 days earlier was in first place in the division – but now, after losing to Columbus 5-3 and dropping their seventh game in the last eight contests – finds itself no longer in control of its own destiny and in need of help from around the league.
(Unless they win all 11 remaining games in regulation, which we all know isn’t going to happen)
So, there was Giroux, gutting it out with the media after he had just played another terrific game – registering a point for the eighth consecutive contest as he scored one of the three Flyers’ goals – in the midst of a truly terrific individual season, telling everyone that the Flyers were, once again victims of their own mistakes.
Which prompted me to ask him a question:
Are the mistakes that are happening something new every night or are they something chronic that keep happening every game?
“To be honest, I don’t know what to say to that,” he said. “It’s a good question, but I don’t have an answer for you.”
That’s OK Claude, because you just gave a very clear and lucid answer.
By not answering the question, Giroux spoke volumes. He obviously doesn’t want to be put in a position where he has to say something like, “Yes, we keep making the same mistakes over and over again and they aren’t getting corrected.”
He’s never been the kind of player to point fingers at others. He’ll fall on a sword for his team. It’s what makes him a good leader. But, it’s hard to be so selfless when he’s playing at such a high level and the rest of the team is not.
Giroux is a smart guy. He’s not going to be disingenuous. He’s not going to say something to make teammates look bad, but he’s also not going to say something to make the rest of us roll our eyes and have the B.S. detectors beeping like crazy.
So, he chose not to answer, but at the same time said a bunch.
Because this Flyers team continues to beat itself. It’s maddening to watch, too. Because they aren’t wrong when they say they do a lot of good things. They do. The Flyers get sustained pressure for good chunks of games. They do out-skate and outwork teams – even teams that are probably more talented – for good stretches of time. There are a lot of moments within games that are very encouraging.
But they are then, inexplicably, prone to disastrous mistakes that end up costing them because even if they lead the world in effort, they definitely still lack in talent and depth, and when that’s the case, simple errors end up costing you more frequently.
So after talking to Claude, I decided to ask the coach the same question. Maybe he’d give me an answer.
So I asked.
And he stared at me. For a good three seconds, which made it feel longer. I can only imagine how it looked on television.
But then he gave a good response:
“I’d say tonight for me the second goal against is a big one,” Dave Hakstol said. “Ten seconds after we gave up the first. So that coverage goal, you can’t duplicate that.
“Then the fourth one which was a puck that didn’t get deep and caught on a line change. Doesn’t matter how you want to categorize them. Those are two mistakes that I thought made it a deep hole to come out of.”
I bolded those key phrases for a minute. Because it says, “Yes, Anthony. These are the issues that keep happening and we can’t seem to stop them from happening.”