If you asked any analyst last summer if they thought Claude Giroux would bounce back and tie his career high in points while leading the Flyers into a playoff spot, the answer probably would have been no. But defying all the talk about being on the decline, Giroux has risen to new heights and has been playing some of the best hockey of his career.
By definition, the Hart Trophy is awarded to the “player judged most valuable to his team”, which has certainly been the case for the Flyers captain, tallying 93 points with four games remaining in the regular season to launch his team into a playoff spot. Giroux has been the biggest reason for the Flyers success because when he is going, the whole team is going. He has undoubtedly been one of the most valuable players to his team alongside players like Nathan MacKinnon, Anze Kopitar, Taylor Hall and Connor McDavid, but hasn’t been getting the same attention.
— Flyers Nation (@FlyersNation) March 29, 2018
It’s safe to say Giroux is one of the most underappreciated players in the league and he uses it as motivation to be a better player. There is no bigger Giroux critic than Claude himself. After being on a point decline for three consecutive years and struggling to stay healthy, he’s been a dynamic offensive catalyst in every situation.
There was a lot of talk about Giroux’s even-strength production over the years, but he’s been great this season, notching 59 of his points and 19 of his goals at 5-on-5 play. He’s also been a contributor in nearly 37% of the Flyers’ total goals.
On the positional side of the things, Giroux has been one of the best faceoff guys in the NHL over the years and this year he’s clicked at 58.5% faceoff percentage despite playing the wing. And he’s still taken over 1,000 faceoffs.
Once again, if you asked analysts if the Flyers would have had this much success at the beginning of the year, the answer likely would have been no. If you remove Giroux from the Flyers, people will still say they have a decent amount of talent to make the playoffs, but that isn’t true, he is the engine running the train and should always be recognized as such.
There were rumors of trading him a few years ago and many fans turned their back on the captain, but he’s showing everyone why you should never doubt him and why is a serious contender for the Hart Trophy.
Will it be hard to bypass MacKinnon, Kopitar, Hall, Kucherov and even McDavid? Absolutely. But he should be getting a mention at the very least. The captain is set for a run at the Stanley Cup.