Skates to Fill
Since the trade of Mike Richards, it has largely been assumed that Claude Giroux’s job next season is going to be to fill the void left by the former captain. In order to accurately assess this statement one needs to analyze both players and look deeper than just the normal statistical categories of goals, assists, and points. By analyzing the context of each players scoring last season it will become more clear as to whether or not it will be up to Giroux to replace Richards.
Last season Richards registered 24 points in the first period (eight goals, 16 assists) 22 points in the second (nine goals, 13 assists) 19 points in the third (five goals, 14 assists) and one goal in overtime. In comparison, Giroux registered 18 points in the first (three goals, 15 assists) 33 points in the second (16 goals, 17 assists) and 25 points in the third (six goals, 19 assists).
In looking at these point totals, one will see that Richards and Giroux’s scoring complemented each other. Giroux’s 25 third period points are similar to Richards’ 24 first period points just as Richards’ 19 third period points are similar to Giroux’s 18 first period points. Giroux’s second period is what throws everything off because he produced at such a rapid rate but when looking at the other two periods one will find that Richards scored his majority early, while Giroux scored the majority of his later in games.
Both players recorded the majority of their points through assists. When analyzing assists, it is important to establish whether a player registered a primary assist or a secondary assist. A primary assist is awarded to the player who touched the puck prior to the goal scorer registering the goal. Primary assists help illustrate the context of the player’s role on a goal scoring play. Giroux registered the most primary assists on the team last year tallying 34. To put that total into perspective, Giroux’s primary assist total was so high that it equaled Ville Leino’s entire assist total from last season. Richards registered the second most primary assists on the team by finishing with 26. Both players finished with 17 secondary assists.
One will see that Richards registered more assists in situations that put the Flyers up by a goal than Giroux did. Richards registered assists on 26 go-ahead goals last season (11 in the first, seven in the second and eight in the third) compared to Giroux’s 13 (eight in the first, five in the second). But in comparison, Giroux registered 10 assists on goals that tied games (three in the first and second and four in the third) where as Richards only registered four (two in the first, one in the second and third).
Upon analyzing both players, it is hard to conclude that Giroux’s job is to replace Richards. When analyzing Daniel Briere in comparison to Jeff Carter, it is easy to see that both players had the same role on the team. They both scored a lot of goals and both scored goals in similar situations. For a team that had a surplus of scoring and a weakness in goaltending, the team decided to trade offense for defense.
In comparison, Giroux and Richards roles were much more broad. Both players were expected to score goals, help others score goals and were both expected to be the best players on the ice. When analyzing the two, both players produced in different scenarios. Richards commonly scored points early in games and Giroux would score late. Richards helped put the team ahead and Giroux helped tie it up. That isn’t to say that both players only scored in that dynamic, but their stat totals display that they had those tendencies.
Moving forward, Giroux’s role next season is to continue to build upon what he did last season. While Giroux will be given more responsibility, it’s not his job alone to compensate for the loss of Richards. Replacing the former captain shouldn’t fall on the shoulders of one player, rather it should be a joint team effort. Giroux led the team in almost every offensive category last season. He also registered more hits, more ice-time minutes and had a better face-off percentage than Richards. Giroux’s job next season is to continue to be Giroux, not to try and replace Richards.
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