Philadelphia Flyer forward Claude Giroux, leading scorer in the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs, will have to sit out his team's biggest game of the season. Giroux was handed a one-game suspension May 7 by NHL head disciplinarian, Brendan Shanahan.
The suspension is the result of a hit by Giroux on New Jersey Devils forward Dainus Zubrus in the waning seconds of the second period of game 4 of the series, which the Devils now lead, 3-1 after winning that game, 4-2. Replays show Giroux was checked near the boards in the Devils end and gestured to the ref nearby, frustrated either that no penalty had been called on that play, or earlier when Devils goalie Martin Brodeur played the puck outside the trapezoid.
Giroux, who has 8 goals and 9 assists to lead postseason scoring, then followed Zubrus and, after the New Jersey forward threw the puck into the Flyers end and skated over the blueline and down the boards, Giroux raced up to him, cut in front and bodychecked him, leading with his shoulder and hitting Zubrus in the head.
Giroux; Hit to head of Dainus Zubrus
Giroux was given a two-minute minor for a hit to the head. Zubrus was down on the ice before skating off and going to the dressing room but he came back to play in the third period. Some two minutes before the play Zubrus had scored what turned out to be the game's winning goal; he also scored a third period empty-net goal.
Shanahan noted that Giroux had been unhappy with the previous play and "even turned his back to the play" to complain to the ref, suggesting his hit on Zubrus was due to his frustration. He also noted that Giroux' hit was an "illegal check to the head." Giroux, a pivotal player throughout the playoffs, told media in Philadelphia before his hearing that he was just finishing his check.
The Flyers will have to stave off elimination Tuesday night in Philly without their star player. Game time is 7:30 p.m. EST.