Flyers vs. Penguins: Claude Giroux Will Lead Philadelphia to Even Season Series

Christopher Leone@ChristopherlionSenior Analyst IFebruary 20, 2013

NEWARK, NJ - FEBRUARY 15:  Claude Giroux #28 of the Philadelphia Flyers skates against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on February 15, 2013 in Newark, New Jersey.The Devils defeated the Flyers 5-3.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Claude Giroux has had enough of the Philadelphia Flyers' struggles.

The team captain and first-line center called out his team after a 4-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens last Saturday. The loss left the Flyers 1-3-0 on a six-game road trip, 3-7-0 on the road for the season, and 6-9-1 overall.

"We're not winning battles," Giroux admitted, per "We're just going through the motions."

The team responded by drubbing the New York Islanders 7-0 in a President's Day matinee, with Giroux's two goals and assist leading the charge. Now, he will lead Philadelphia into Pittsburgh to take on the Atlantic Division-leading Penguins in only the teams' second meeting of the season—and he won't leave satisfied unless the visitors triumph.

The teams' first meeting, held at Philadelphia's Wells Fargo Center on opening day, ended in a 3-1 Penguins victory. Things have been markedly different for the two clubs since, as Pittsburgh ranks second in the conference with 22 points and Philadelphia is two points out of a playoff spot with only 15.

But Giroux is determined to lead his team out of the Eastern Conference basement. He ended a seven-game goal scoring drought against the Islanders, and hopes that the floodgates will open for him in the wake of that performance. With two goals and four assists in the past four games, Giroux has nearly doubled his point total from the first 13 games of the season (13-3-4-7).

After Giroux stepped up on Monday in the wake of his comments, his teammates did the same. Daniel Briere, who had only two points in his previous seven games, added two goals and an assist of his own. Kimmo Timonen posted his first plus rating of the entire road trip. Ilya Bryzgalov secured his first shutout of the season with 19 saves.

In short, the Flyers will live and die by the play of their talented captain, especially in such a heated matchup.

The Flyers are both confident, coming off of their biggest win of the season, and motivated, looking to take vengeance on their rivals' ice after losing the season opener. But most importantly, they're following their leader in Giroux, who is doing exactly what a captain is supposed to do: motivating the rest of the team to put forth a greater effort by setting the right example.

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