-- Claude Giroux
offers only a wishy-washy answer when he's asked to tell precisely when his confidence started to grow, precisely when he figured out he could have some serious success at the NHL level.
"At the end of the season last year it just started clicking," is all Giroux offers. "Since then we haven't stopped."
Giroux uses the plural we because he wants to include his teammates, but the Flyers' run to the Stanley Cup Final this past June and their successful first quarter this season has as much to do with Giroux as it does with anyone else in that dressing room.
So, whether it was his shootout winner that propelled the Flyers into the playoffs on the final day of the regular season, the four goals he scored against the Devils in the first round of the playoffs, the two he netted in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals against Montreal or the overtime winner he scored in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final against Chicago doesn't really matter.
At some point late last season, Giroux's confidence started to soar, and through 22 games this season it's still very high.
Giroux leads the Flyers with 12 goals and is second behind captain Mike Richards
with 23 points. It's virtually the same pace he was on in the playoffs last season, when he had 21 points in 23 games to become arguably the top breakout performer in the 2010 postseason after recording 47 points in 82 regular-season games.
Six of his goals this season have come on the power play. He leads the NHL with 3 shorthanded goals. And, 3 of his 12 goals have won a game for the Flyers.
Philadelphia rewarded Giroux earlier this month with a three-year contract extension that will pay him $11.5 million.
"When you sign for three years and you know you're with a good organization you feel good about yourself," Giroux told NHL.com. "Hopefully I can be here longer than just the next three years."
Giroux's offense shouldn't come as a total surprise. He was a dynamic force in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League from 2005-08, registering 321 points in 187 games. The Flyers drafted him in the first round, No. 22, after he had 103 points in 69 games as a rookie for the Gatineau Olympiques.
Giroux had 112 points in 63 games the following season and 106 points in 55 games in 2007-08.
However, even he admits that at the time the Q was tailor-made for offensively gifted players and the level of defense he faces in the NHL is overwhelmingly different.
But, isn't that all the more reason to marvel at what he's been able to accomplish during his past 45 games?
"It's pretty exciting to watch him because he's a dynamic player," Flyers forward Scott Hartnell
told NHL.com. "Good players are going to be consistent game in and game out and he's been able to accomplish that early on in his career. Getting a nice contract like that, he rewarded himself and he's making the most of it."
Flyers coach Peter Laviolette
said Giroux's success is based on a combination of elements.
"I think any time you get confident and you maintain a high level of work ethic, you can be successful," the coach said. "You throw in the skill level that he has and then you've got a player that can be really dominant in games and dominant in the League. For me it's a combination of his confidence with a dose of work ethic and a heavy skill set."
Giroux hasn't let anything change him. He's very much a humble guy -- perhaps too humble.
Getting him to talk about himself and his accomplishments is in itself an accomplishment; but it's not something he cares or worries about because right now he's speaking loudly with his production.
"When things are going right, they really go right," Giroux said of his numbers. "Obviously in juniors I was an offensive player, but it's juniors and it's not the same thing. It's different. You just learn, I guess. I've been here for three years and I'm still learning, but I'm having a lot of fun doing it now. I feel real good right now."
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl