Claude Giroux stepped up to a makeshift podium in an unused locker room and held a water bottle. He knew what was coming — questions about the power play.
The Flyers had not one, but two man-advantages in overtime and couldn’t capitalize on either one. The punishment was an odd-man rush three minutes after the second power play and Alexei Ponikarovsky ending Game 3 in dramatic fashion with a 4-3 win.
Giroux gripped a water bottle and braced himself. He has one goal in the series and is a minus-3 through three games. He played 27:26 Thursday night, more than any other forward. He had more than five minutes on the power play and still, nothing.
“I think the power play won us a lot of games this year and tonight wasn’t the case,” Giroux said. “I think we’ve got to do a better job. I think all five guys gotta work harder and the reason why we’ve been successful this year is because we work hard and we win a lot of battles and put pucks on net. I think we’ve got to go back to that.”
Danny Briere agrees. He tied the game at three apiece at 11:04 of the third period, but his 3:51 of power play time was ineffective as well.
“The power plays cost us the game tonight, all around,” Briere said. “I was trying to protect it the first two games, saying that good things were going to happen, it’s just a matter of time. But the last two games, the all-around effort on the power play is just not good enough.
“It seems like we just think that they’re going to let us do whatever we want out there. Their penalty-kill unit is outworking us by a mile. It’s the reason why we lost the last two games. If the power play’s hungry, it’s a different story. We could be up 3-0 instead of down 2-1. The 10 to 12 guys that are on the power play, it’s time to step up here now and want to be out there. It’s an honor to be out there. Right now, we take it for granted.”
The Flyers are now 2-for-16 on the power play after going an astounding 12-for-23 in the first round against Pittsburgh. Giroux doesn’t know what the answer is. He squeezed the water bottle tighter in front of the crowd of reporters.
“We gotta score a goal,” Giroux said quickly, almost too fast to distinguish where he was breaking up his words. “We gotta find a way.”
Even quicker, through pursed lips, he said, “Doesn’t matter how, we’ve just gotta find a way.”
He waited, made sure no one had any more questions, threw the water behind him under an unused bench and walked out of the room, patting a reporter on the back on his way out.
He didn’t scream or get nasty with anyone. The frustration is staying within the Flyers’ dressing room and Giroux holds more of that perhaps than anyone else. He said he loves pressure situations and that that’s where he thinks he thrives.
The Flyers are down in a series for the first time in the playoffs this year. The time has come.
“I know I’ve gotta step it up,” Giroux said. “I know I’ve gotta be a better player. I’m aware of that. I’ve just gotta find a way.”