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Stop blaming Claude Giroux for Flyers scoring woes

Dec 13, 2013, 10:33 AM EDT

source:  Flyers captain Claude Giroux has taken an abundance of heat lately.

As the captain and most talented attacker, he rightfully wears the responsibility of his 28th ranked offense and 18th ranked power play. He deserves contempt for his lackadaisical play and poor puck decisions.

Yet while much of the condemnation facing Giroux is justified, the most criticized aspect of his game has been his lack of goals. And this is wrong for one simple reason:

Giroux is not a goal scorer.

In 2011-12, when Giroux broke out as an elite player with 93 points, he still only managed 28 goals — his career high. The season prior he had 25 and he was on pace for 22 goals in the lockout-shortened year. Giroux is a playmaker with some finishing ability and will always be a pass-first player that relies on shooters to build his point totals.

Taking Giroux to task for his inability to finish isn’t unimaginable, however. Despite a team-leading 23 points, he is only on pace for 15 goals this season, a drastic dip from his career average. Yet there’s reason to believe that will improve in the upcoming months.

With a goal against the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday, Giroux’s shooting percentage grew to 6.7%, a step closer to his career average of 12%. This means Giroux, who leads the Flyers in shots with 89, will start finding net more often and the posts less, as long as he keeps capitalizing on shot opportunities.

And this improvement has already begun.

If you subtract the awful 15-game scoreless drought to begin the season, Giroux has all six of his goals over a 17-game span. It’s nearly a 30-goal pace since the start of November and he hasn’t gone on a substantial streak yet.

Giroux’s problems aren’t with finishing but with his control over the game.

Often he’s played a passive role on both sides of the puck and gone missing for games at a time. Craig Berube’s suddenly defensive Flyers aren’t deep enough offensively for Giroux to be a secondary player and you don’t need two hands to count the times he’s been the team’s MVP or willed the Flyers to victory.

In other words, “Playoff” Giroux has not been seen.

Through 32 games this season, Giroux has yet to have a three-point game and has just five two-point games. Compare that to the lockout year when he had 14 multi-point efforts in 48 games and it’s easy to see why many expect more from him — because he’s good for it.

What makes Giroux such a talent is his playmaking vision and ability to upgrade the production of those around him. Not his goal scoring. So if you’re looking for the cure to the Flyers’ scoring woes, don’t point the finger solely at Giroux, but look at his linemates, too.

  1. igantz - Dec 13, 2013 at 11:04 AM

    Great article. I agree with this wholeheartedly. Everyone seems to want him to be an Ovi, or Stamkos type player, when thats not really his game. If you put pure goal scorers with him, that person would have career numbers simply based off how how well G can set them up. The people around him need to finish.

    Reply
  2. NZPhilly - Dec 13, 2013 at 11:13 AM

    Imagine him on line with Stamkos in the Olympics…

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    • Charles Baserap - Dec 15, 2013 at 4:21 PM

      That would be nice, if they were on the American team, go USA!!!

      Reply
  3. reverendpaulrevere - Dec 13, 2013 at 11:31 AM

    Good take, and definitely good points. It’s not as if Claude has ever been a 40-goal scorer or anything.

    However, I do have to say that part of this is the front office’s fault. When you trade away a goal-scorer like Jeff Carter and don’t really replace that type of sniper, while simultaneously handing the reins to Giroux, it put that pressure on him. Fans expected him to raise his game and pick up the scoring slack, whether fair or not, and I think that’s why he’s getting so much flack.

    And while he certainly has started to pick up his production offensively … the fact that he’s only on pace for 15 goals is something to absolutely harp on. I love Claude, but he’s at the stage where he should be getting better and improving his game, and simply put, he isn’t. He hasn’t come close to living up to those “best player in the world” expectations Laviolette put on him since that playoffs.

    At the end of the day, you can’t ignore that slump to start the season because it happened. Yes, if he turns it on after the new year, we can say it was simply a hiccup, but the most deflating part for me, as a huge Claude Giroux fan, is the fact that he simply has not gotten better the past two seasons. The great ones get better. They work on their weaknesses and improve their games. We need Giroux to do that.

    The good news is we can all see players turn it around quickly, especially the elite talents like him. Case in point is Alex Ovechkin, who had a two-year mini-slump (like 30-goal seasons are bad!), but then regained his passion and form last year to win the Hart and is tearing it up again this year.

    That’s what we need from Giroux — not the scoring, necessarily — but the improvement in his game.

    Reply
    • Base125 - Dec 15, 2013 at 4:23 PM

      💤💤💤

      Reply
  4. psudrozz - Dec 13, 2013 at 11:37 AM

    he’s a playmaker.

    this team needs finishers.

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  5. baxter097 - Dec 13, 2013 at 12:36 PM

    While I agree with this story, I still wonder why he will be getting paid like an elite goal scorer.

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    • grabber88 - Dec 13, 2013 at 6:44 PM

      He’s getting payed like an elite HOCKEY PLAYER because that’s what he is.

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    • Base125 - Dec 15, 2013 at 4:25 PM

      He’s getting paid, because he’s a points scorer, and a point leader, He’s one of the best point men in the league, it’s only his fourth year, and this year isn’t even over, give the due to break, he will come through, i’m more pissed about Hartnell!!! He’s been terrible!

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  6. Mostel - Dec 13, 2013 at 6:07 PM

    Can I point a few middle fingers in the direction of Hartnell (thief on a long term deal WAY beyond his value) and Homer (for signing that loser Hartnell to that deal)?

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    • Base125 - Dec 15, 2013 at 4:27 PM

      That’s so true, Great reply, I just left the same reply, on another guys post!

      Reply
  7. glouie - Dec 13, 2013 at 6:42 PM

    I’m a huge Giroux fan. He’s in my Top 5 favorite Flyers of all time. Still, the blame falls on his shoulders, that’s why he’s the captain. If they need more goals, he either needs to score them himself or do a better job at setting his teammates up so the have an easier time finishing. If he becomes a goal scoring threat, it opens up the ice for his passing game. Drawing more defensive coverage also means his teammates have more room to operate. You can’t just say he’s a playmaker, so that’s all you’re ever going to get out of him. He would be the first to tell you he needs to do more because that’s what the great players do.

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  8. docvegas - Dec 13, 2013 at 6:45 PM

    listen idiot, giroux is the center of the teams first line, if call that a top line. so else would you blame for the team that averages 2 goals per game, maybe the fourth line. who gets all the power play time, who gets more ice time than any other forward on the team? i think the answer is giroux. one more thing, giroux would not be first line center on any top team in the nhl.

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    • BOBBY BURNS FROM THE BACK BLOCK - - Dec 13, 2013 at 8:23 PM

      Yea well you just showed you have no idea about hockey so i am guessing you can just stick anybody on the wing with your star player on any team and he will be good here is a hint go threw some good NHL teams and look who plays on the wings of their star centers here goes the first one for ya they are the best team in the NHL Jonathan Toews plays center with Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa on his wing so your going to tell me if we swap out Giroux and put him in between Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa he would keep playing bad? and what do you think would happen to Jonathan Toews if we stuck him in the middle of Hartnel and Voracek??? and just for the fun of it here is their second line and if G played next to either one of these guys he would be playing like he did when Jagr was on the line Michal Handzus plays center and has Patrick Kane and Kris Versteeg on his wings so do not tell me he should have to do everything on his own and look at these stats Kris Versteeg got traded from FLA where he was not playing good when he left FLA he had 2 goals and 5 helpers in 18 games when he went to CHI and got put on the line with Patrick Kane and Michal Handzus in 15 games playing with them he scored 3 goals and has 7 helpers do the math on how them stats will turn out

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    • lee - Dec 13, 2013 at 10:02 PM

      I agree with u doc. Giroux could end up a minus 90 and these die hards will have a million eccuses for him. The only reason he is on the top line is because the team sucks.

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      • willh888 - Dec 13, 2013 at 11:44 PM

        naw, we don’t make eccuses

      • BenE. - Dec 14, 2013 at 1:43 AM

        Scott Hartnell couldn’t find the net with Ron Francis feeding him the puck. Unless he fell into it after tripping over the puck.

        That is the source of Giroux’s scoring woes right there.

    • lana3579 - Dec 15, 2013 at 10:25 AM

      Wow

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    • Base125 - Dec 15, 2013 at 4:30 PM

      Dude you don’t know what you’re talking about, Hartnell is the one who’s not coming through, like the guy said , G, only scores about 25 to 30 goals a year, what do you think he’s going to be a Stamkos player, he’s not, and never will be, Hartnell supposed to put the puck in the net!!

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  9. BOBBY BURNS FROM THE BACK BLOCK - Dec 13, 2013 at 8:13 PM

    Listen it is hard to blame him for everything that is going on HOMER did not give him NOT ONE PROVEN WINGER to play with we seen last night a little bit what happens when you have a winger who will go and work hard on a line with G

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  10. lv - Dec 14, 2013 at 7:42 AM

    have you ever looked at the top 3 centers of all time that played for the flyers, they made their wingers better players, with the exception of billy barber, he meant as much to clarke as clarke meant to him. reggie leach never saw the ice when he was in boston, he comes to philly and clarke makes him the greatest sniper in flyer history. ross lonsberry was mediocre at best with the kings tilll he came to the flyers and was put on a line with rick macleish, same as gary dornhoffer, he never did much with boston. john leclerc was a 3rd line center with montreal and became a sniper when he was hooked up with lindros, same goes for michael renberg, he was just an average right winger. so stop making excuses up for a billionaire like giroux.

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    • DSD - Dec 14, 2013 at 9:29 AM

      First off, the Flyers acquired Reggie Leach from the California Seals. Reggie Leach was a high draft choice who obviously had talent and was languishing in a bad situation with the Seals. Reggie Leach had what was regarded as the finest slap shot in the NHL from the mid-70′s until the early ’80′s. Reggie Leach was a talented player who prospered when he was placed on a line with TWO HALL OF FAMERS which got the puck to him in scoring situations. Reggie Leach was 10 times the offensive threat that Scott Hartnell is now. It’s not even close. Ross Lonsberry was a consistent 20 goal scorer with both the Kings and the Flyers. Look his stats up on Wikipedia or hockeyreference.com. John LeClair was playing on the 3rd or 4th line in Montreal, sometimes masqueraded out of position as a center, playing 3rd or 4th line minutes, and never played with an elite talent like Lindros who could attract multiple defensemen’s attention, get him the puck, and basically raise hell in the opponent’s offensive zone. John LeClair was 10 times the offensive player that Scott Hartnell is. Renberg was an injury-prone winger who, with the exception of his rookie season in 93-94, never exceeded 59 points in a season despite playing with elite talents in Lindros and LeClair. Still, Renberg was a much better and skilled player than Hartnell can ever hope to be. Put a sniper or a natural goal-scorer on Giroux’s line and he’ll start racking up the points. I’m not making the excuses, but the players you mention (especially Leach and LeClair) had one major difference with the players that Giroux is playing with now…. They. Were. Great. Players.

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      • DSD - Dec 14, 2013 at 9:31 AM

        And calling LeClair a “sniper” is a little disingenuous.Though he had a fairly decent shot, LeClair was a prototypical power forward who made his money raising hell in the crease, screening the goalie and cleaning up the garbage.

      • lv - Dec 14, 2013 at 1:14 PM

        leach was drafted by boston but could not crack the lineup with them and was shipped to the seals. do you really think leach was so talented that he would have had the same stats on a line with terry crisp, bill clement or orest kindrachuk

  11. Mike - Dec 14, 2013 at 11:03 AM

    Giroux is what he is. People need to stop over-attributing him blame and praise. He is an elite passer who is limited in his own zone. Also, he is more of a power-play specialist than an elite talent. Look at his stats a little deeper from the past few seasons. When he scored 94 points a couple of years ago, he still wasn’t in the top ten in even-strength points. Last year, he was a ppg player who wasn’t even in the top 100 in even strength points. This year, I think he was/is closer to the 200th ranking in Even-Strength points, though it’s been awhile since i checked. A large portion of his points come on the power play, and that’s fine. But the best players in the league, and the players who lead to championships for their team are great at Even-Strength. After all, about 47/60 minutes (per behindthenet.ca) are played at Even-strength.

    Also, Lindros should not be brought up in a Giroux discussion. It’s sacrilege. Lindros is arguably the best or second best forward the Flyers ever had, and probably ever will have. Giroux doesn’t crack the top ten.

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  12. drewpsm - Dec 14, 2013 at 12:09 PM

    Can Ben E eat crow now that he was referring to Raffl as “another fringe Euro” that wasn’t going to work out at all? He put him on the same standing as Nodl and Pyorala without so much as giving the guy a chance and being all butt hurt because his man crush McGinn wasn’t getting PT.

    I’m not crowning the guy as the real deal yet, but he consistently shows that he can play two-way hockey as he learns the NA game. He was a checker on the bottom lines and then was rewarded to play on the top line and looked like he could hold his own out there. And oh yeah, he’s been a solid penalty killer for us too. I don’t know if that’s enough to make him a “fringe Euro” but we’ll see if he doesn’t make it to January like Ben E said. Maybe he won’t be a “poor man’s Ville Leino” after all.

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    • willh888 - Dec 14, 2013 at 9:26 PM

      dude Raffl is the man. He’s on pace for 8 goals.

      Reply
    • t800m101 - Dec 15, 2013 at 9:16 AM

      Dude, Raffl fucking blows, and he’s a soft pussy. Raffl is in the same exact mold as a Pyrola and Nodl type player.

      Reply
  13. FlyersFan - Dec 15, 2013 at 9:47 AM

    I’ve been saying for a while he needs a true sniper on his wing. He’s a playmaker first and foremost not a real goal scorer. Never has been. What he has is great hands, vision, and passing ability. The Flyers need to take advantage of those talents by giving him a pure goal scorer on his wing. That’s easier said than done. The Fourth Period is reporting that the Flyers have inquired about Evander Kane and may be wiling to part with Brayden Schenn, Matt Read, a prospect and a pick. I think that would be insane on the Flyers part. I like Kane but not at the cost of Schenn.

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    • lee - Dec 15, 2013 at 7:53 PM

      Kane is terrific power forward andwould help the team more than schenn does. Next season when laughton centers the second line schenn will be buried. So why. Not get rid of him now. He shows up every 6th game or so and gets a goal or assist, he is no big deal.

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      • FlyersFan - Dec 16, 2013 at 9:12 AM

        @lee

        I agree that Kane could help the Flyers. I disagree with your other points. Laughton will displace Schenn? Not a chance. Laughton is a 3C or a 4C. I am not giving up a developing 22 year old center who’s already the second leading scorer on my team and brings a nice physical game to go with it.

        They can have Couturier. A strictly defensive 3C who’s value is high right now because of a fluke 4 point game and a couple of wacky bad angle goals. Now everyone thinks he’s offensively gifted lol.

  14. lana3579 - Dec 15, 2013 at 10:23 AM

    “He deserves contempt”….. Who the f$?@ are you? That is ludicrous!

    Reply
  15. Charles Baserap - Dec 15, 2013 at 4:19 PM

    Claude , is not a goal scorer, he needs to make assists to make his point!!

    Reply
  16. FlyersFan - Dec 15, 2013 at 6:28 PM

    Capitals 5 Flyers 4 SO

    In a game the Flyers should have won, they let Washington steal it. A few points about today’s game.

    1. Kimmo Timonen. He continues with astonishingly bad, boneheaded plays. On the game’s first goal, Timonen gets caught out of position and then deflects the shot into his own net and scores a goal on Mason through a desperation lunge. At this point, he is pure garbage. A complete trash bag. Totally useless. He needs to go asap.

    2. Craig Berube. This moron continues to make ridiculously bad decisions in regards to the shootout. He leaves Voracek and Schenn on the bench and selects Couturier to either continue the shootout or lose the game. Naturally, the Flyers lost. Decisions like this are completely baffling. When he took over for Laviolette, he preached a defensive game and cutting down on penalties. The Flyers penalties haven’t gone down and the defense continues to struggle. It will continue to do so as long as Timonen plays and logs first pair minutes.

    3. Michael Raffl. What a revelation this kid is turning out to be. He’s playing so well that Hartnell might get permanently displaced from the first line.

    Reply

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