I now take it back. I want it stricken from the record. The statement is still true in a way, but my reasoning is now completely different.
I always thought Giroux saw Letang coming. I always thought he did lean into the impact a little. I tried to rationalize it as bracing for a collision. I tried to excuse his looking straight at Letang and hitting him anyway as not being in control enough to avoid it. I can still believe that.
But then I saw what Giroux did with his right arm. That changed everything. The looking. The waiting. The timing. The backward elbow thrust. The calculation. The direct head contact.
Now, having come to this realization, it’s natural to want to hate Giroux, the Flyers as a team, Philadelphia as a city, and pumpkins just because they’re orange.
That’s exactly what Giroux wants.
His team was horrifically out skilled in Game 1. More so than even the devoutest of Pens fans thought they’d be. Even in a 5-1 victory in game 2, the Flyers were outshot 35-20 and out chanced as well.
He was up 2-0 in a road game 2 and still felt the need to play this card. That says more about how he feels about where his team is at in this series than it does about Giroux himself.
There were a lot of questions heading in but the verdict is final: The Penguins are too much to handle when they play their game. He knows it. Wayne Simmonds knows it too. That’s why following Giroux’s lead, he needlessly cross checked Evgeni Malkin with 1:37 left in the second period. Again, up 2-0 very late in a road game, wouldn’t you want to slink quietly into the break? Instead, the Penguins were gifted a power play and but for a rare bit of puck “unluck” for Sidney Crosby missing an empty net, there could have been a very different feeling in the respective dressing rooms during the second intermission.
So instead of giving in to the hate heading into hostile territory, recognize it as the white flag it is. React to it as you would greatest compliment someone like Giroux could have given to Pittsburgh the franchise, and Pittsburgh the city.
It’s more fun that way, and you catch more flies (or Flyers) with honey than vinegar anyway.