In the locker room before the game even started, Claude Giroux sent a message. In a pressure situation, he wanted the weight on his shoulders. Giroux doesn't have a "C" on his jersey and apparently he doesn't need one to act like he's the Flyers' captain.
"When the best player in the world comes up to you and tells you, 'I don't know who you're planning on starting tonight, but I want that first shift,' that says everything you need to know about Claude Giroux right there," Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette said.
Giroux, 24, had a monster series with six goals and eight assists. His 14 points fall one shy of a team record set by Tim Kerr in 1989 for points scored in a playoff series.
Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were all the rage at the start of the series. All the talk was about them being the best players in the world. Giroux wanted to prove otherwise and it took just six seconds.
Following the opening faceoff, he drilled Crosby just outside the Pens' blue line to set the tone. Later that shift, he scored the game's first goal.
"He told me before the puck even dropped, about 10 seconds before they dropped the puck, he came over and he told me, 'Watch the first shift,'" Danny Briere said. "And when he did, I didn't even know what to say to him. He's been our leader all year... ."
Even off the ice, Giroux shows why he's a leader. He was asked about a frustrating moment in Game 5 where he slammed his stick and shattered it over the crossbar and brushed it aside as calmly as his on-ice play.
The Flyers haven't had a captain all season, yet with Giroux, they don't seem to need one.
"'G' is a pretty special player," goalie Ilya Bryzgalov said. "He can hit. He can dish. He can score. He's good defensively. It's not many players like that in the world."