After the Philadelphia Flyers' Game 4 loss to the New Jersey Devils, Claude Giroux didn't believe his hit to the head of Dainius Zubrus would result in any NHL supplemental discipline. "I should be fine" for Game 5, he said.
Brendan Shanahan and the Department of Player Safety will be the judges on that. According to Tom Gulitti of Fire and Ice, Giroux will have a supplemental discipline hearing Monday morning with the NHL over this hit that resulted in an illegal check to the head minor:
It was a reckless play by Giroux, coming moments after he was incensed by a non-call against the Devils — claiming that goalie Martin Brodeur illegally played the puck outside the trapezoid area behind the goal. Zubrus had scored the go-ahead goal minutes before Giroux threw a shoulder into his head; he later scored the empty-netter than clinched the 4-2 win for the Devils, and a 3-1 series lead.
"He surprised me," Zubrus said. "I don't think the puck was that near, so I was just trying to get in on the forecheck. He decided to play me. I had a similar hit earlier in the year where I felt the point of contact was in the head and it was a similar thing where he didn't get me in the jaw or anything, didn't knock me out, but I still needed a few seconds for sure just to kind of get back to it and get my feet back under me.
"Then, I went to the room. It was the end of the period, so I had plenty of (time) to recover and get looked at by the doctors and I felt fine."
Giroux, meanwhile, stated his case:
"I was trying to finish my hit, and he kinda leaned in and he kinda tried to chip the puck in. I didn't see the replay, so I don't know, but obviously I'm not a dirty player. I don't want to hit guys on the head. I was just trying to finish my hit there."
It was a reckless play by a player without a history of supplemental discipline. It didn't result in an injury. To that end, it's surprising that the NHL might take action on this with something more than a fine. Refreshing, but surprising.
But like we said last night: If you're going to suspend James Neal for headhunting Giroux in Round 1, can you make the argument that Giroux went a little unhinged here and headhunted Zubrus to work through his angst? If so, it's the same moment of flashpoint violence and reckless behavior that the NHL is trying to avoid.
Now that the wind's clearly blowing against Giroux on this matter — TSN crucified him last night during their broadcast — it's looking like the Flyers will be without their playoff MVP in an elimination game. A player that was the epitome of cool in Round 1 has become the same irritable detriment that Flyers fans took joy in watching the Penguins become. It's all rather shocking.