At the end of press row, Claude Giroux sat helpless. As much as he wanted to yell to his teammates and get them going, the only one there to listen was fellow scratch Jody Shelley.
Giroux was suspended for Game 5 thanks to a hit to the head of New Jersey’s Dainius Zubrus in Game 4.
“Talking to the guys, they look pretty confident,” said a hopeful Giroux Tuesday morning. “Everybody wants to win. That’s pretty clear. Just sucks that I can’t do anything about it. I have no control over the game tonight. I’ve got to make sure I’m ready to go for Game 6.”
There will be no Game 6 because Giroux’s teammates weren’t ready for Game 5. He sat far above the ice, but the script the Flyers followed appeared to be the same as the first four games of the series. The Flyers scored first and lost, 3-1.
Zac Rinaldo took Giroux’s roster spot and made his presence felt almost immediately. Six minutes and change into the game, he annihilated Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov in his own end with a punishing hit.
It took Volchenkov an entire TV timeout to get up off the ice, but instead of the hit giving the Flyers energy, the hit sent the game into a physical match that seemed to have little to do with scoring the next goal and more to do with making the glass rattle with checks.
“That’s my bread and butter right there,” Rinaldo said. “That’s what I feed off of and that’s what gets the boys going.”
Not Tuesday night. The Flyers led in Rinaldo’s favorite category of bone-crushing hits and his guilty pleasure, penalty minutes. The scoreboard proved they are the same team that was outworked, outsmarted and outcoached in Games 2, 3 and 4.
At the end of the first period, an angry Giroux walked to the elevator and left the press box. His look was one of frustration, surely because he felt he could have changed things if he were on the ice.
The Flyers had a day to prepare for life without him, but they didn’t change either.