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Many thought he was done, but the Flyers Captain is thriving this season and helping the Flyers in the playoff race
By Chris Yackel
Last season Claude Giroux had the worst statistical season of his career. He finished the 2016-17 season with a career low 14 goals and the second lowest point total of his career with 58. It was a huge shock for fans to see one of the leagues elite fall that far off a cliff in offensive production. Many may not realize this but, Giroux’s stats declining was something that was happening for years, not just the 2016-17 campaign.
After his 28 goal, 86 point 2013-14 season where Giroux was a Hart Trophy nominee his stats have progressively declined each season. In the 2014-15 season Giroux had 25 goals and 73 points. In the 2015-16 season his numbers declined even further to 22 goals and 67 points. Then there was Giroux’s worst season of his career last year. Giroux also was set to turn 30 during the 2017-18 season where most players begin to see a deep decline in production. Naturally, there were questions if Giroux was passed his prime and no longer among the NHL’s elite players.
There was even trade speculation at the draft this past summer. According to Bob McKenzie there were rumors that there were talks that Giroux was linked to the Montreal Canadiens. Although McKenzie clarified it was not serious just speculation and rumors, it still left even more questions surrounding the Flyers captain.
Giroux is not one to make excuses, but what could have contributed to his struggles last season was a hip injury that never fully healed. Prior to the 2016-17 Giroux had offseason hip surgery. Giroux claimed to be 100 percent, but later on in the season said that the injury never fully healed.
To add even more fuel to the fire in training camp Giroux was moved from his natural Center position where has played his entire career to the wing. The move was a bit surprising considering Giroux is one of the better faceoff men in the league. Giroux like the captain and leader he is did not pout, but rather embraced the role.
Despite all of these questions surrounding the Flyers captain Giroux is proving all the doubters wrong. Giroux must have trained like a mad man this summer because, he looks more dominating on the ice and more determined this season as opposed to last. Whatever Giroux is doing its certainly paying off. Giroux currently sits at fifth in the NHL in points with 90 points. He also currently has 26 goals and leads the NHL in assists with 64.
The move to wing has not only helped Giroux, but it has helped this Flyers team in general. The move enabled Center Sean Couturier to move up to the role as first line center with Giroux on his left. Couturier has thrived in this role as he is fulfilling his potential as the 8th Overall pick from the 2011 Draft is having a career year with 70 points (30 goals, 40 assists). The chemistry between both Giroux and Couturier seems to have helped both players have career years.
Giroux’s re-emergence back into the NHL’s elite has also helped the Flyers back into playoff position. With seven games to go the Flyers currently hold the first wild card with 88 points and look poised for a playoff push. Giroux is leading the charge when it matters most. Although he has been consistent all year long, he is really stepping it up in the month of March with 16 points in 12 games.
Giroux is certainly in the conversation for the Hart Trophy as well, as he is having an MVP type of season. He is proving that age is just a number. Just because he is 30 doesn’t mean he’s done. The season he is having is truly incredible and a comeback story we could all appreciate.
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