Back on December 21st the Flyers beat the Dallas Stars 4-1, but it wasn’t just an ordinary regular season victory. It was in this game that Claude Giroux made his return after missing four games with concussion symptoms. He returned in glorious fashion by contributing on all four of the Flyers goals. The top line of Hartnell-Giroux-Jagr was the catalyst behind the Flyers success, fast forward to now and that top line is on the borderline of needing an overhaul.
Since that game in Dallas the top line has only contributed a total of 12 points in 12 games. This is the breakdown of the point totals for the top line in those 12 games. Now remember Jagr missed two games after sustaining an injury early on during the Winter Classic.
Giroux: 1 Goal, 3 Assists
Jagr: 1 Goal, 2 Assists
Hartnell: 3 Goals, 2 Assists
It was only a matter of time before opposing teams keyed in on this top line and with seven out of those twelve games on the road it gave the opponent the opportunity to match up their top defensive line with the Flyers top scoring line. You can clearly see the frustration that Giroux is having. Last night against the Islanders he put his stick and was bending it over his head after Nabakov made a save on his shot in the 3rd period. Defenses are suffocating Giroux with such tight pressure that I’m not even sure if air can escape. He is forcing passes that were once easy to make.
Besides Giroux the person who is suffering the most is clearly Jagr. For much of the early season he feasted off of the scoring chances that were set up for him by Giroux. Now Jagr is struggling to just take shots on net. In those 10 games he only has 18 shots and for the most part has been invisible on the ice.
Now Scott Hartnell is a different story. He is still continuing to score on the power play and has put himself in serious consideration to be an alternate for the all-star teams. His spot in front of the net hasn’t been stopped by the defensive pressure and is capitalizing off of every opportunity that he gets, but that makes this question so much harder to answer. What changes will Laviolette make to this line?