The news came out Tuesday morning, though Philadelphia Flyers coach Peter Laviolette made it seem like he has know for a while that Claude Giroux would be out indefinitely with a concussion.
As players heard of the downgrade, they spoke in positive terms about persevering despite a bevy of injuries, but after the 5-1 win over the Washington Capitals, Jaromir Jagr admitted he was skeptical.
“I wasn’t very confident about today’s game when we lost G. We lost the best player in the league and it’s not easy to play without it,” Jagr said. “We have to play the same way and the guys step it up. I thought we play all around – all four lines play good hockey. That’s what you need when you’re missing players like that.”
Thirteen different Flyers picked up points as they built on their lead atop the Eastern Conference in their first game without the NHL’s leading scorer.
“I thought [it was] one of our better team games,” Laviolette said. “Start to finish, all lines, all defensemen, goaltender, we had everybody going. I was really happy with it.”
Goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov was feeling it, as he stopped 31 of the 32 shots the Caps threw at him. Many shots weren’t of the difficult variety, but he did make some impressive saves. And those 13 players with points included rookie defenseman Marc-Andre Bourdon, who scored his first career NHL goal.
Injuries to defensemen Chris Pronger, Andreas Lilja and Erik Gustafsson forced Bourdon, 22, into action perhaps earlier than most expected. But he has thrived in that role.
“The last few games, I think he’s played like an NHL player, not a rookie,” defenseman Kimmo Timonen said. “He’s making really good choices, with the puck and without the puck.”
That’s what the Flyers need to do without Giroux, Pronger and others.
“Hopefully we can keep playing the same way till he come back,” Jagr said.