In last night’s 3-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, Claude Giroux left early after being knocked in the head accidentally by Wayne Simmonds. We don’t know yet if he’s actually hurt, or if it was a precautionary move.
If G does have a concussion, we can assume they will be extremely cautious with him and not try rushing him back. Who knows if that means missing a week, two weeks, or much more time. If he does have to miss any time, then this will be a time when we really find out what we have. Thus far, the Giroux-Jagr-Hartnell combo has been a consistent offensive threat. Other than that, we’ve had a few goals coming from all over the place. Nobody else really dominates the way our top line does. Peter Laviolette may be facing a situation where he has to get even more creative.
When replacing Giroux on a temporary basis, you have a few different things to worry about. First off, he’s clearly found some chemistry with Jagr. They find each other in transition and the cycling game very well. Hartnell hasn’t had to really adjust or adapt at all. He benefits because he’s always near the net, and the other two are always getting pucks to that area. After Giroux left the game last night, Briere and Couturier filled in for him. And even though Lavy liked that Couturier looked comfortable, I’m not sure that he’s the best fit. Jagr needs someone with vision that can feed him, as well as having a nose for the net. Briere fits that mold. He’s got a proven scoring touch.
However, if we shift Briere up, how does that effect his line? It’s not as simply as just moving every center up one line and inserting someone into the lineup as the 4th line guy. You have to put together combo’s that will generate offense and be responsible on defense. You want guys that will work well together, communicate, and add something to the team. With a team playing at a high level, you want to maintain that pace, rather than just hold on for dear life, waiting for their best player to return.
Whatever the coach comes up with, this is when we get to see what our depth really has to offer. Can Jagr and Hartnell continue to score with someone else at the pivot? Can Briere or JVR provide more of a spark? Who else will step up to help spread the offense? Or is this team completely top heavy and unable to account for a loss of this magnitude. If so, then we are really in trouble. Realistically, I think the best approach is for the Flyers to do what Pittsburgh did last season when they lost Crosby and Malkin for the season. They played tougher defense, and rather than push the offense, simply tried to capitalize on mistakes and win lower scoring games. They managed to do it without become a boring team. With our team speed, we are capable of doing it. Let’s just hope guys will step up and do.
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Topics: 2011-12 Nhl Season, Claude Giroux, Danny Briere, Depth, Evgeni Malkin, Ice Hockey, Injuries, Jaromir Jagr, JVR, NHL, Peter Laviolette, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Scott Hartnell, Sean Couturier, Sidney Crosby, Tampa Bay Lightning