SUNRISE — In the thick of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Claude Giroux is chugging along and doing his best to continue to get acclimated to the Florida Panthers less than two months after getting traded from his longtime home in Philadelphia.
And he is digging it.
“I’m just enjoying the playoffs right now,” Giroux said. “We’re having a good time, we’re having a lot of fun and we’re in a position right now that we’re back at home and we have to win two out of three.”
When he was brought in at the NHL Trade Deadline, it was expected that he would be a vocal leader on this team.
He was the captain of the Philadelphia Flyers for nine of the 15 years he spent there and played in 85 playoff games — including a run to the 2010 Stanley Cup Final — in his career.
Yet, with the number of players with playoff experience on this team, he has had the opportunity to take a step back and lead by example.
“There are a lot of leaders on this team that you don’t even have to say anything,” Giroux said. “You just go out there and do the right thing and that’s what this team does. We have a lot of leaders that do the right things on the ice and that is the best way to lead.”
During Game 4, it was 2020 Stanley Cup Champion who stepped up for the Panthers, scoring two goals in a 3-2 overtime victory in Game 4.
Two-time Stanley Cup Champion Patric Hornqvist and Joe Thornton, who has a laundry list of accomplishments on his resume, also serve as key vocal leaders for the team.
Still, with a lesser role, Giroux is still doing what he can to help the team and has become another voice in the locker room.
“When he’s on the ice, on the bench, he’s like another coach,” Brunette said.
“He has seen it all, played in all these different moments. His IQ, and how he sees the game is off the charts. And he has this leadership ability where guys listen to him and he is vocal on a team that doesn’t have a lot of vocal guys. He rallies the group and gets them ready to go.”
Rallying the group and finding that sense of self-belief was a big point of emphasis for the team heading into Game 4.
They found themselves down 2-1 in the series after the momentum turned Washington’s way and they had to fight for it back.
Of course, Giroux knew this group was ready for those situations heading into the game.
“We’re a team in the way that guys believe in each other,” Giroux said. “I think that’s one of the reasons why we only lost  games during the regular season.
“Every game, they just brought it. We were down by four goals a few times and we came back and you just don’t see that kind of stuff. Guys believe that we are going to win every game and when you believe in yourself, you’re starting to get on the right foot.”
It was that self-belief that brought the Panthers back from a 2-1 deficit late in the third period — after Washington took a lead following a breakaway sparked by a high-hit by T.J. Oshie — to tie the game up with 2:04 to go and win the game in overtime.
“That is why you play playoff hockey; it’s stressful, it’s exciting, there’s a lot of emotion that goes on,’’ Giroux said.
“You lose Game 3 and you are down a little bit, but we just believed that we could come back in this series and now it’s 2-2. The emotions are high and that’s why we play the game.”
Morning Skate Updates
- Mason Marchment was not at Tuesday’s morning skate and is a game-time decision for Game 5. He is dealing with the same injury that kept him out of the last three games of the regular season.
- Maxim Mamin will take Marchment’s spot in the lineup if he cannot go, playing on the third line with Anton Lundell and Sam Reinhart.
- Giroux will slide back on the second line with Jonathan Huberdeau and Sam Bennett.
- Bennett will be good to go after taking the high hit from Oshie in Game 4.
- Tom Wilson did not skate for the Capitals during their morning skate. He is day-to-day with a lower-body injury.
NHL STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS
PANTHERS V. CAPITALS (TIED 2-2)
- Game 5: Wednesday, 7:30 p.m.
- Where: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN2
- Radio: WQAM 560 (Miami/Fort Lauderdale); WMEN 640 (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3 (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Tickets: CLICK HERE
PANTHERS V. CAPITALS
- Regular season series — Florida won 2-1: @Florida 5, Washington 4 OT (Nov. 4); @Washington 4, Panthers 3 (Nov. 26); @Florida 5, Washington 4 (Nov. 30)
- All-time regular season series: Capitals lead 67-44-11, 9 ties
- Playoff history: First meeting
- First-round schedule — Game 1: Washington 4, @Florida 2; Game 2: @Florida 5, Washington 1; Game 3: @Washington 6, Florida 1; Game 4: Florida 3, @Washington 2 (OT); Game 5: Washington at Florida, Wednesday, 7:30 (ESPN2/BSF); Game 6: Florida at Washington, Friday (Time, National TV TBA); Game 7*: Washington at Florida, Sunday. *If necessary