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Jack McCaffery is the lead sports columnist for the Daily Times and He has spent several decades covering everything from the Phillies, Eagles, Flyers and Sixers, to college hoops, to high school sports in Delco.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Giroux: No time to push 'panic button'

By JACK McCAFFERY @JackMcCaffery
VOORHEES, N.J. --- The Flyers, who have not scored a non-shootout goal in two games, practiced hard Friday at the Skate Zone.
They didn't yell, point fingers, demote anyone to the minors, instigate massive line changes or --- hey, around there, it's always possible --- fire the coach.
They worked.
That's it.
“I mean, you can't be worried about it,” Claude Giroux said. “It's only been a couple of games. And the last few months we have been doing a good job of getting some offense and playing as a team and getting the chemistry going. We just got away from it a little bit.
“We have six games to go. It's not time to hit the panic button. We just have to stay with the system, stay with what we are doing, and we will be just fine.”
The Flyers will take their system to Boston at 1 Saturday afternoon for their second test in a week against the Bruins, who have 111 points and 52 wins. Last Sunday, they lost, 4-3, to Boston, in a shootout at the Wells Fargo Center, Vinny Lecavalier scoring with 24 seconds left in regulation for force overtime.
They have not scored a non-shootout goal since, losing, 1-0, in a shootout in St. Louis, then 2-0 to the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets Thursday.
“Worry is not something that we talk about,” Giroux said. “We don't worry about our game. We just need to be focused on what we have to do. We know how to play. We just have to go back to that.”
As he will, Craig Berube gathered the Flyers for a pre-practice on-ice talk Friday, then had them play mostly at game speed for about a 45-minute workout.
“I don't think we have to nip anything in the bud,” the head coach said, responding to a question. “It's two games. Go back and look at the St. Louis game. We had tons of chances. And we had chances (Thursday) night, when I thought the power play was good. So we have to make sure that our power play gets straightened out. But it is just about hard work and getting to the net and doing little things.
“Sometimes, this time of year, it tightens up and you don't get the easy goals. You have to work for things. You have to get to the net, get rebounds and get some dirty goals.”
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Hal Gill, 39, has played in just four games for the Flyers this season. That doesn't mean he hasn't made a contribution.
That's why the Philly hockey writers Friday nominated the veteran defenseman for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, which goes annually to that NHL player showing the most perserverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.
One player from each NHL team will be nominated for the award, which will be presented in June.
Ian Laperriere (2011), Tim Kerr (1989) and Bobby Clarke (1972) have won the award for the Flyers.
“He's a great leader for an older, veteran guy who has been around,” Berube said. “What he has done for our hockey team this year --- showing support for the guys while not playing --- and how hard he works every day, it is pretty remarkable. He is a special guy. He really is. I've got a lot of respect for him.”
Gill joined the Flyers on a one-year contact after a tryout and has not played in a game since Dec. 21. But Friday, at least, he was one of the last players off the ice … as usual.
“I'm honored,” Gill said. “I have never won an individual award. There have been a lot of people who have persevered. I guess I am dedicated. I love hockey and I want to win. And everyone who has persevered or has overcome or has persevered has looked for one goal, and that is to win the Cup. So I guess I am not that different than anyone else.”
Gill won a Stanley Cup with the Penguins in 2009 … but would appreciate an encore.
“I am just trying to be as helpful as I can,” he said. “I try to be good in the locker room and help the team. I think that's part of being a teammate --- being supportive, being there and knowing your role.”
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Lecavalier won a Stanley Cup with Tampa Bay in 2004. Despite their recent inability to score, he does sense some championship-like characteristics in the Flyers.
“There is not going to be a 'perfect' year,” he said. “You're not going to be great every night. But if you look at the first 76 games and how the guys are in the room and on the ice, it's definitely a room with a lot of character. And it's a team you want to go into the playoffs with, for sure.”
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NOTES: Wayne Simmonds and Andrew MacDonald were off Thursday for “maintenance days”, according to the Flyers … Steve Downie, who has not played since March 22 with a concussion, was not declared ready to play in Boston, though Berube said he would know more by Saturday morning … The Flyers will return to play the Buffalo Sabres Sunday night (7:30) at the Wells Fargo Center.  


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