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Meltzer's Player Profiles: Claude Giroux

Bill Meltzer breaks down the Captain's career so far

by Bill Meltzer @BillMeltzer

By the time Claude Giroux is finished with his NHL career in Philadelphia, he safely projects to be second on the franchise's all-time scoring list. At age 32, Giroux (815 regular season points in 889 regular season games) is 34 points from tying Flyers Hall of Fame left winger Brian Propp for third and 68 behind Hockey Hall of Famer Bill Barber for second. 

If Giroux were to catch and pass Hockey Hall of Famer Bobby Clarke (1,210 points) for the Flyers all-time franchise scoring lead, he'd have to play until he's 38 years old if he averages roughly 67 points for the next seasons.

Giroux has been a Hart Trophy finalist (2013-14) and a top-four finisher (2017-18) for the league's MVP award. He's won the Bobby Clarke Trophy as Flyers MVP in five different seasons and played in the NHL All-Star Game six times. 

A prolific playmaker, he has topped the 50-assist mark five times. He's also scored 20 or more goals eight times and ranks eighth on the franchise all-time goal scoring list with 257 goals. He needs seven goals to tie Simon Gagne for ninth.

Contrary to what some of his critics claim, Giroux has also had his share of playoff success. He has posted 65 points (24g, 41a) in 69 career playoff games to rank ninth in franchise in points and seventh in points-per-game (0.94). In the latter category, he actually ranks ahead of Clarke (0.88, 9th), Barber (0.84, 12th), Mike Richards (0.79, 13th), and Reggie Leach (0.76, 17th).

As a second-year NHLer, Giroux was a big part of the Flyers' drive to Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final in 2010. He scored a vital shootout goal in the 2009-10 regular season finale that propelled the team over the New York Rangers into the playoffs. In the postseason, he contributed 21 points in 23 games, including the overtime winning goal of Game 3 of the Cup Final against Chicago.

In 2012, Giroux played the series of his life as the Flyers toppled the highly favored Pittsburgh in six games in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. Giroux racked up six goals and eight assists for 14 points in the series. In Game 3, he dropped the gloves with Penguins counterpart Sidney Crosby. In the opening shift of Game 6, Giroux produced one of the most memorable shifts in recent franchise playoff history as he rocked Crosby with a heavy, clean hit and capped it off by scoring the first goal of Philly's 5-1 victory. Giroux also collected two assists in that game. 

Even as the Flyers went down to defeat in seven games to the New York Rangers (coached by Alain Vigneault) in the 2014 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Giroux was one of the key reasons the series went to the limit. Apart from compiling six points in the seven games, Giroux won 56.5 percent of his faceoffs in the series and pulled an average 19:24 per game of ice time.

There is more to Giroux -- who is now the longest single-reigning captain in Flyers franchise history (Clarke had two separate stints as captain) -- than just scoring stats. He is one of the team's hardest workers on a day-in and day-out basis at practice. He prefers to leads through positivity and friendly needling rather than a fire-and-brimstone approach but is himself an ultra-competitive individual. 

Two years ago, when former head coach Dave Hakstol asked Giroux -- a longtime All-Star caliber center -- if he'd consider moving to left wing, the captain immediately embraced the idea for the good of the team and responded with a career-best 102 points. Since then, whenever asked, he's moved back to center when the Flyers have been caught short down the middle but has come to prefer playing left wing. 

This season, under new head coach Vigneault, Giroux has willingly sacrificed some points (53 points in 69 games before the pause) to be of the leaders in ensuring team-wide buy-in to the 200-foot, high-tempo style that Vigneault demands. He also remains one of the elite faceoff men in the NHL and is the player who still primarily quarterbacks the team's top power play unit.

The one and only thing that Giroux has yet to accomplish in his Flyers career is something that takes a whole team to deliver: a Stanley Cup championship. 

 

FIVE KEY FACTS

1) Giroux was on an offensive tear at the time of the NHL season stoppage due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Over the Flyers final 15 games before the pause, the team captain racked up 18 points (8g, 10a). 

2) In the Flyers 7-2 "statement" road win over the Washington Capitals on Feb. 8, Giroux achieved two big milestones on a night where all the pregame attention was focused on Alex Ovechkin's quest for 700 career goals. Giroux tallied his 800th career point and 250th goal in the NHL. Ovechkin was held off the scoresheet.

3) Giroux has posted 13 multi-point games this season before the stoppage, including four-point (Nov. 21 at Carolina) and three-point (the aforementioned Feb. 8 game in Washington) performances.

4) One indicator of Giroux's leadership role in getting team-wide buy-in for Vigneault's system: shorter shifts. He has averaged 43 seconds per shift this year, whereas he averaged 49 seconds last season. Although his average time on ice per shift is down a full six seconds, he's averaged basically the same number of shifts per game in 2019-20 (26.3) as he did last season (26.1): actually, it is slightly higher.

5) Giroux has won a robust 59 percent of his faceoffs this season, trailing only Sean Couturier (59.6, NHL league leader) on the Flyers and ranking fourth leaguewide.

 

TOP HIGHLIGHTS

Video: PHI@TOR: Giroux fires slap shot during shootout

1) Nov. 9 @ TOR (shootout, round 2): One week after the Flyers lost a marathon shootout to Toronto at the Wells Fargo Center, the team returned the favor with a skills competition victory in Toronto. Giroux broke the ice in an unusual way. He simply skated in a straight line and, rather than making a move, surprised Frederik Andersen by blasting a slapshot right past him.

 

 Video: PHI@WSH: Giroux nets PPG for 800th NHL point

2) Feb. 8 @ WSH (8:02, 3rd period): Giroux punctuated a rousing 7-2 road rin for the Flyers, and individual three-point game, with this 5-on-3 power play goal off a feed from Travis Konecny. The tally was Giroux's 250th goal and 800th point in his regular season NHL career.

 

Video: NYR@PHI: Giroux hammers Couturier one-timer home 

3) Feb. 28 vs. NYR (15:05, 2nd period): Giroux netted a pair of goals in the front end of the Flyers home-and-home sweep of the Rangers. We highlighted the second goal -- a power play tally -- in a recent article about the Flyers' power play adjustments in 2019-20. This was the first of his goals. Giroux went off the post and in after a setup pass from Sean Couturier.

 

THEY SAID IT  

"Anyone who is paying attention knows that 'G' is a great player, and he has always been a great player. He works his [tail] off, and the only thing he cares about is winning."

-- Jakub Voracek, Jan. 20, 2020

 

HE SAID IT 

"There have been a lot of great players on this team over the years, so to be mentioned with some of those names [among the all-time best in franchise history] is a good compliment. But, to be honest, I don't really think about that stuff. I want to look at our team right now. We've got a really good group here, and we've got a strong belief in what we can do. That's the main thing."

-- Claude Giroux, Feb. 8, 2020.

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