Claude Giroux is not scoring nearly as much as he has in years past.
That is not the end of the world. That does not make him a bad captain. That does not mean his game is declining. That does not render him ineffective.
In fact, there's an underlying positive to Giroux having 35 points (13 goals, 22 assists) through 53 games.
It hasn't hurt the Flyers.
Why? Because Giroux has had help.
For so long, and probably too long, the script had been the Flyers go when Giroux goes. Too much had fallen on Giroux's shoulders with not enough support.
The script has changed in 2019-20 and, the numbers have proven, for the better.
Already, the Flyers have won 13 games in which Giroux has gone scoreless. They are 13-10-4 when he is held to without a point.
That is significant.
In 2018-19, the Flyers were 10-19-2 when Giroux went scoreless. In 2017-18, they were 8-10-2 when he went scoreless.
In 2016-17, the Flyers were 13-15-7 when Giroux didn't have a point. The Flyers will almost certainly end up winning more than 13 this season, which would mark the most in Giroux's tenure outside of one season: 2009-10, when the Flyers made a run to the Stanley Cup Final.
Giroux was only 22, in his first full NHL campaign and, of course, not the guy as the Flyers boasted Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Chris Pronger, Danny Briere, Simon Gagne, Scott Hartnell, just to name some. During the regular season that year, the Flyers went 17-27-4 when Giroux was held to without a point.
That was OK because the Flyers were balanced, deep and didn't rely on just a few stars. This isn't to say the 2019-20 Flyers will turn out to be the 2009-10 Flyers, who finished the regular season with 88 points.
But, unlike most years, the Flyers are winning games when Giroux goes quietly on the score sheet. They are eighth in the NHL standings (29-17-7, 65 points) and you can bet Giroux will start putting up more points as he has a history of turning things on in March.
The captain very well could feel fresher for the stretch run. Head coach Alain Vigneault and the Flyers have been able to monitor his workload this season (19:15 average time on ice, fourth lowest of his career). And Giroux has still been impactful. He has the best faceoff win percentage of his career (58.9), he leads the team in shots (152), is tied for second in power play points (13) and is a plus player (plus-8).
At 32 years old, Giroux isn't carrying the Flyers — and that's not a bad thing.
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