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Claude Giroux is turning back the clock

Picture this – it’s April 2012 after a playoff game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Coach Peter Laviolette steps up to the microphone:

“When the best player in the world comes up to you and tells you, ‘I don’t know who you’re planning on starting tonight, but I want that first shift’, that says everything you need to know about Claude Giroux right there.”

Is it possible Lavy was pandering to an audience after the Flyers just beat the Penguins to advance to the second round of the playoffs? Yeah, that’s possible. Is it possible that he was serious? Absolutely. This was (and still stands) as Giroux’s best season. He scored 93 points in 77 games. He was a tone setter all season long and didn’t get the respect he deserved. For instance: he was in Hart trophy talks for a good amount of the year but ended up losing out to Evgeni Malkin, whom Giroux’s Flyers bounced in the first round of the playoffs.

Since that playoff series, due to a handful of reasons, Giroux didn’t appear to be the player that Lavy described in the post-game. The following season Giroux averaged a point a game for 48 games in the shortened season, 86 points in the 2013-2014 season, 73 points in the 2014-2015 season, 67 points in 2015-2016, and 58 points in 2016-2017. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that, for the most part, Giroux has been on a steady decline since the 2011-2012 season. Getting less than 60 points a season from your captain, who had a reputation for putting up points, is unacceptable. That’s what made the 2017-2018 campaign so crucial for the captain.

Coming into this season it was rumored that Giroux would make the move from Center to Left Wing to make room for Sean Couturier on the top line. I loved the idea from the moment I read the rumor, I just didn’t know if Dave Hakstol would pull the trigger. Long story short, this move worked perfect for the Flyers. The move, paired with the fact that he’s fully healthy, rejuvenated Giroux’s career. Through 70 games he has 82 points (25 goals, 57 assists). If Giroux pots three more goals over the next twelve games he will match his career high in goals. As we stand after 70 games, Giroux is 11 points away from tying a career high in points.

Here are a few more things to note as of March 13, 2018:

  • Claude Giroux is fourth in the NHL in points behind Nikita Kucherov (88), Evgeni Malkin (87), and Connor McDavid (84).
  • Claude Giroux is third in the NHL in assists behind Jake Voracek (59), Blake Wheeler and Johnny Gaudreau sit at (58)
  • Despite these numbers, Giroux isn’t even in some people’s talk for the Hart Trophy.

I’m trying to put my bias aside. I really am, but to not have the fourth most productive player in hockey in your top 11 is absurd to me.

Pure negligence on Steve Simmons part if you ask me.

Are you getting deja vu too? Or is it just me? This seems eerily familiar to what the Eagles went through not too long ago. Remember that dog mask you ordered on Amazon? It might be time to break it out again. The Flyers are about to go on a playoff run and they are led by a hungry underdog in Claude Giroux who knows what it takes to win a playoff series and make it to the Stanley Cup final. With twelve games left in the season, I think it’s safe to say that Claude Giroux is back to prime form and ready to take the postseason by storm.

You can follow Anthony Mazziotti on Twitter (@AntMazziotti) and e-mail him at [email protected].

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