Not so long ago Peter Laviolette claimed that Claude Giroux was the best player in the world. On April 22nd, 2012 Claude Giroux presented himself to Sidney Crosby via a huge check then went on to score just 32 seconds into the first period of Game 6 against the Penguins. The shot was a wrister that rocketed off the left post. Marc-Andre Fleury never had a chance on it and the tone was set.
The resulting path of Claude Giroux after “The Shift” has been one of disappointment and people wondering whether he should be wearing the C. So now I hope to help answer the question of, “What is wrong with Claude Giroux”?
Claude Giroux has totaled only 5G and 16 A in 31 games so far this season. After averaging better than a point per game the last 2 seasons Claude is currently on pace to only record 56 points. That would put him at his lowest point total since the 2009-10 season when he finished with 47. In addition to his low point total, Claude is sporting a hideous -10 +/-. So I started to dig a little deeper using the Ice Track feature courtesy of SportingCharts.com.
After finishing my investigation I came to the conclusion that Claude’s reduced offensive output can be attributed to two things; bad luck and a tendency to shoot from long distance.
Below will be two heat maps illustrating all strength goals scored and shots taken for Claude Giroux and Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk this season.
The first thing I took away from comparing these heat maps was the high concentration of shots taken by Datsyuk in between the two face off circles and in front of the net. If you look at Claude’s you can see that a higher percentage of his shots are coming from above the faceoff circles. This tendency to take shots that far from the net has led to an average shot distance of 35.32 ft for G. I believe this has led to Claude’s career low shot percentage of 5.48% and his poor performance offensively this year. By comparison, Datsyuk has scored 13 G while sporting a shooting percentage of 16.67% with an average shot distance of 26.14 ft.
Now, to the bad luck that I referenced earlier in the article. According the folks over at Shot Charts, the league average shot percentage for forwards since 2005 stands at 10.82%. So for every 100 shots about 11 goals reach the back of the net. This leads me to believe that at some point Claude’s shooting percentage will improve towards the mean. He can’t continue to shoot this poorly all year, at least I hope not.
So, in conclusion, I believe in order for Claude to improve offensively for the remainder of the season he needs to muscle himself closer to the net and start taking higher percentage shots. (Read: TAKE SHOTS CLOSER TO THE NET) If he continues taking slap shots from the hockey equivalent of the 3-point line he will be seeing less of the lit lamp going forward.
As always, please send all your hate mail to bear[dot]canney[at]gmail[dot]com and your angry tweets to @BcanneyBSB.
Heat maps provided by SportingCharts.com