Better With Popcorn

What's going on with you, Giroux?

There is one simple fact to always remember when discussing the Philadelphia Flyers.

The team goes as Claude Giroux goes.

No matter how poor their goaltending is or how badly they need a defensemen, the biggest factor as to whether this team is capable of putting together a deep playoff run rests on the shoulders of the 24-year old burgeoning super star.

Of course, the defense and the goaltending play an important role too, but the Hearst, Ontario native is developing into one of those rare kinds of players who can change the entire course of a game at his own will.

His 60 points through 49 games is proof enough of that.

Merely two points off the league lead, Giroux is attempting to become the first player in Flyers history to win the league’s scoring title. Not to mention, that finishing the season with a triple digit point total is a realistic possibility.

However, there is one snag in the fairy tale that has been Giroux’s season to this point.

He has not been scoring many goals lately.

In fact, it’s actually somewhat accurate to say he isn’t able to hit an open net.

On three separate occasions, Giroux has had the chance to attempt a shot on a wide-open goal. He managed to score on only one of those shots.

While the attempts were more difficult than many make them appear to be, it’s still surprising to see Giroux unable to take advantage of situations he has dominated in the past.

Realistically, that’s how it should be.

He is by-and-far the best player on the team. It’s a sign of respect that so many expect him to do so much.

To explain why he is struggling is difficult.

Giroux currently has 20 goals in 49 games this season. In the 17 games since January 2, he has only scored three goals.

Last season, he scored 25 goals in 82 games. 16 of the goals came in the first 38 games of the season; After January 2, he scored only nine goals in the team’s remaining 44 games.

It certainly appears as though a trend is developing.

Whether teams are learning to defend Giroux or he is lacking creativity remains to be seen, but the one thing that is obvious is his struggles aren’t the result of a lack of effort.

He has attempted four or more shots in five of his last seven games and has totaled 33 shots over that span.

While the goals aren’t coming, the points still are.

He has 23 points in his last 22 games, including five in his last four.

However, there is no denying that Giroux hasn’t looked like himself as of late.

Less confident in the offensive zone, he has been making out of character decisions and at times has lacked that ‘magical’ touch that the fans in Philadelphia have grown so accustomed to.

Is it possible that his concussion from earlier this season is impacting him now?

Well, that’s a question that will continually pop-up any time he struggles through out the rest of the year, maybe even through the rest of his career.

In terms of the future, Giroux is beginning to make positive strides.

On Tuesday night against the Islanders, he played a fairly strong game. He failed to connect on a few set-ups that he normally would have taken advantage of, but all in all he looked better than he has.

Realistically, he was going to have to have a drop-off at some point.

Better it happens now than during the middle of a run in the postseason.

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