Philadelphia Flyers Season Review: F Claude Giroux

Apr 24, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Flyers center Claude Giroux (28) during the second period against the Washington Capitals in game six of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 24, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Flyers center Claude Giroux (28) during the second period against the Washington Capitals in game six of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports /

Philadelphia Flyers captain and forward Claude Giroux tried to do it all for the team this year, but had a challenging season.

On that fateful day in June 2011 when the Philadelphia Flyers traded both Jeff Carter and Mike Richards, it was obviously a huge day for the franchise. They traded the faces of the team, and for all intents and purposes handed the reins of the team offense to young Claude Giroux.

In the intervening years, veteran leaders like Kimmo Timonen and Chris Pronger have retired. Since their departure, this team truly belongs to Giroux. The captain of the team, the team also asks him to do pretty much everything on the ice.

Giroux will never back down from a challenge. He’s a competitive guy, who wants to be the on ice. This past season, however, there may have been too many responsibilities piled up on Giroux.

5v5 Performance

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Starting with basic ice time and possession stats, it’s no surprise to see Giroux leading the team in ice time. His possession also remains positive, although his 5v5 Corsi of 52.3% is only good for 8th on the team.

That “good but not great” performance isn’t entirely surprising. At 67 points and -8, this is Giroux’s worst statistical season of his career since 2009-10, at which time he was 21 and playing his first full season in the NHL.

Giroux has actually seen his production decline the last 2 seasons.

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This chart show a significant decline in Giroux’s 5v5 production rates, albeit from a lofty standard. In the 3 season stretch from 2011-12 to 2013-14, Giroux had more regular season points than any other NHL player–227. Over the last 2 seasons combined, Giroux scored 140 points, good for 13th among all NHL players. Hardly a crisis, but that puts him between Johnny Gaudreau and Blake Wheeler for point of comparison.

Probably the best evidence that Giroux had a tough season this year is his on-ice expected goals.

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Now expected goals is a relatively new measure that I like using because it combines on-ice shot volume with some measurement of shot quality. The chart above shows a bit of decline from Giroux when measuring on-ice shot generation, but a more significant decline once you weigh shot quality. Maybe it’s just my eyes fooling me, but that feels about right from watching Giroux and the team all season. The top quality chances weren’t as numerous this season.

Special Teams

While Giroux’s 5v5 performance was good but had room for improvement, Giroux does a lot more for the Flyers than play at 5v5. He’s the team’s top power play forward in minutes and responsibility. Again, on this count he had a tough season.

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Obviously this must be taken in the context that the Philadelphia Flyers power play this season wasn’t as good as the 2 seasons prior. They scored about 10% fewer power play goals this season, but Giroux is seeing a drop-off in individual points of about 20%.

Switching over to the penalty kill, by at least one measure, Giroux again struggled against his own lofty standards.

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Giroux was bleeding the most chances against compared to all penalty kill regulars this season. This is in contrast to the 2 preceding season, where Giroux and Raffl were the team’s top penalty killers by the same measure.

Put together, special teams was no refuge for Giroux this season. Special teams were similarly a struggle.

Putting it all Together

The charts above show an off season for Claude Giroux, perhaps from his own impossibly high standards. Those relative struggles didn’t cause the team to rely on him any less this season, however. Among forwards on playoff teams, only Anze Kopitar played more total minutes per game than Giroux did for the Philadelphia Flyers.

On top of pure ice time, Giroux was the team’s go-to faceoff guy. Giroux won 57.6% of his faceoffs at even strength, while Couturier, Cousins, and Bellemare all were under 50%. Giroux actually won a total of 1,083 even strength faceoffs this season, 2nd in the NHL.

All the responsibilities may have weighed Giroux down. By the time the playoffs came, Giroux was injured and spent. In 6 playoff games against the Capitals, Giroux registered only one point and was -2. He also required offseason surgery.

Giroux won’t get much of a rest this offseason. He was one of 8 Philadelphia Flyers named to World Cup rosters for the September tournament.

Related Story: Flyers Send 8 Players to World Cup

From an individual standpoint, Giroux may be eager to put this season behind and start anew. From a team standpoint, the outlook may look a little different. Giroux captained the team through a transition to a new rookie coach, got into the playoffs, and did just about everything on the ice for his team.

Despite the challenges this season presented Giroux, there’s no reason to expect anything other than great things from him moving forward. For all the evidence that Giroux had a “down” year, he still led the team in points and was named Team MVP. I suppose that tells you what kind of player we’re talking about.