Giroux Filling In All Of The Gaps
Claude Giroux is a bona fide star and he has the numbers and the highlights to prove it.
But his contributions to the Flyers go much further than his stick handling, tight passing and dazzling goals.
When the Flyers traded Mike Richards and Jeff Carter over the summer, the expectations for Giroux grew exponentially. With an NHL-leading 43 points in 30 games, it’s safe to say that Giroux has not only risen to the challenge, but has far exceeded it.
Giroux excels on the ice no matter the circumstance. He is a brilliant playmaker, a calculated goal-scorer, and his smarts and flexibility help him on defense when the situation calls for it.
His playmaking ability has been one of the biggest factors in the team’s offensive success. He creates turnovers that lead to goals, makes difficult passes that lead to goals and oftentimes just stuns the goaltender in front of him to score goals of his own.
Giroux’s hockey skills do plenty to boost his own numbers on the scoresheet, but he affects everyone around him when he’s on the ice, namely his linemates Jaromir Jagr and Scott Hartnell.
Both men had a lot to prove at the start of the season, and Giroux has been a huge factor in their success to date.
Jagr was returning to the NHL after not playing in the league for three years. People wondered if he would be able to adjust quickly and if he would still be as skilled a player as they remembered him.
Giroux and Jagr were put on a line together to start the season, and they were like a hockey duo made in heaven. It took Jagr some time to score that elusive first goal, but he and Giroux combined for 21 points in the first ten games of the season. Their plays were made for the highlight reel, and that only continued as the season went on.
Hartnell was coming off of a rough training camp and preseason, and his early-season struggles had the fans and the organization questioning his place on the roster.
After registering only two assists in his first six games, Hartnell was moved from the third line to the first when Peter Laviolette decided to give Hartnell a change of scenery to find his scoring touch.
The results were seen instantly. Hartnell went on to score nine points in his first five games with his new linemates.
Since its formation, the Hartnell-Giroux-Jagr line is one of the top lines in the league with a combined total of 107 points in 34 games.
When Giroux missed a few games due to a concussion sustained on December 10, the Flyers wavered a bit. They went 2-2 in the four games without their leading scorer, and some of the gaps in their system came to light.
Giroux returned to the lineup on December 21, putting up four points on the night and helping lead his team to a 4-1 win over the Dallas Stars. The Flyers have lost two games in a row since that win, but Giroux’s presence has not wavered a bit.
He made a fantastic play in the first period of Monday night’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, shooting the puck against the boards just to have it bounce right back to him, setting up Hartnell to score the only Flyers goal of the night.
Giroux’s creativity and skill has put him amongst some of the NHL’s elite players, both in scoring and in reputation. With his own team, he is by far the most dazzling player on the ice, and the one who contributes the most.
The Flyers have depth, strength, and edge in all the right places. Giroux’s addition to the lineup not only enhances all three, but fills in all of the little pockets in between.