Goalies come up big Thursday 

April, 23, 2010

On Thursday night, we had three shutouts in four games. I'd say that's a pretty good night for the goaltenders. (And that will be reflected in my three star selections.)

We had one team (New Jersey) meet its demise, while another team (Ottawa) decided to fight against the dying of the light. Two other clubs (Chicago and San Jose) took the opportunity to remind us why they stood among the most powerful teams in the league during the regular season.

Before I give you my three stars from last night, I do want to make a special mention of Philadelphia Flyers pivot Claude Giroux. Philly's first round pick (22nd overall) in 2006, Giroux stepped up big-time in the absence of high-scoring teammates Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne, who were both sidelined with foot injuries.

In the Flyers' series-clinching Game 5 win over the Devils, on the road, Giroux came through with a pair of goals and an assist to lead the club's offensive charge. This kid has some serious skills, and he obviously doesn't shy away from the big moment. We like that.

Just think, at the draft, then-Flyers GM Bobby Clarke had a momentary lapse of memory, forgetting Giroux's name while announcing the club's pick at the podium. With big-game performances like the one Giroux put up last night, he's making sure no one ever forgets his name again.

E.J. Hradek

Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
E.J. Hradek is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, joining the staff prior to its launch in 1998. He began covering hockey as a writer/editor for Hockey Illustrated in 1989.