Adversity Of Giroux Suspension Gives Flyers Chance For Galvanizing Moment

It was announced earlier Monday that Philadelphia Flyers centerman Claude Giroux would be suspended for Tuesday night's Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinal series with the New Jersey Devils for his hit to the head of Dainius Zubrus in Game 4.

While many saw the announcement as a death knoll for the Flyers -- who are trailing 3-1 and are on the verge of elimination -- it could otherwise provide the club with something of a rallying point after looking disorganized for much of the series.

Similar circumstances occurred for Philadelphia's opponents during the postseason, and both times the opposition rose to the occasion, with each coming up big and gaining a tremendous amount of momentum.

During the Flyers - Pittsburgh Penguins series, red-hot scoring winger James Neal was suspended for one game following an elbow to the head of Giroux in Game 3. Pittsburgh appeared to be in the same type of funk currently being experienced by the Orange-and-Black, and after being blown out of the Wells Fargo Center in Game 3, looked to be ready to be swept away as the confident Flyers enjoyed a 3-0 lead.

The Penguins didn't hang their heads and go away quietly, instead rallying for a 10-3 drubbing of the Flyers in Game 4, then eeking out a 3-2 victory in Game 5.

Players such as Jordan Staal, Steve Sullivan, Pascal Dupuis, and even slumping superstars Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby came up big, and seemed to find a renewed bit of energy.

Philly eventually took Game 6, but had the galvanizing moment come earlier in the series for Pittsburgh, it could have been a much-different outcome.

The Flyers' second round opponent didn't lose a player to a suspension, but the Devils did find themselves in a tough spot when they fell in overtime of Game 1, then found out leading scorer Ilya Kovalchuk would miss Game 2 with an undisclosed lower-body injury.

When Matt Read scored early in Game 2, if there was a point of the season where New Jersey was looking for an excuse to collapse, it was at this time.

Instead, the Devils put together one of the most suffocating performances against the Flyers of the year, dominating territorial play and sticking with their game plan before finally breaking through for four unanswered goals in the third period to take away a split from South Philly.

It had to give Jersey a world of confidence to know they were able to dictate play even without Kovalchuk, and that knowledge has definitely bolstered their swagger as the series has proceeded.

While Pittsburgh obviously had two of the world's best players in Malkin and Crosby to help cushion the loss of Neal, the Devils received big contributions from Travis Zajac, David Clarkson, and two of their defensemen.

Bryce Salvador recorded his first goal in nearly two years, and rookie Adam Larsson -- who had been a healthy scratch for New Jersey's first eight postseason contests -- stepped into the lineup and scored the first goal on Ilya Bryzgalov to kick start the come-from-behind triumph. The 19-year-old Swede has not gone back to the press box, instead becoming a valuable part of the Devils' stifling defensive effort against the Flyers.

The Kovalchuk injury has worked as a blessing in disguise for NJ, as the superstar came back recharged and has been dangerous almost evey time he touches the puck since his return. Coupled with the addition of Larsson, Kovalchuk sitting out Game 2 has been a positive.

Maybe even the Devils' galvanizing moment.

Sometimes a bit of adversity can bring about a definitive point in time that draws a team together. Kind of like Brian Boucher's shootout victory over Henrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers on the final day of the 2009-10 campaign. That moment spring boarded that Flyers club to a playoff run that ended with a Game 6 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Finals.

With a tough situation minus their best player for Game 5 Tuesday night staring them squarely in the face, this season's Philadelphia team will have their chance for their own galvanizing moment.

And there are plenty of Flyers' candidates that could step up their play -- Wayne Simmonds (just two assists versus NJ and one goal and six points in the postseason following a 28-goal regular season), Jakub Voracek (three assists v the Devs), Maxime Talbot (one assist against New Jersey after being so instrumental in win over Pittsburgh and 19-goal season), Jaromir Jagr (one assist v NJ and one goal and eight points in the playoffs), and Read (one goal is the lone point he's scored against the Devils in this series), to name but a few.

If they collectively fail to do so, it could be an abrupt and disappointing ending to what has been a promising 2012 postseason in the City of Brotherly Love.

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