Philadelphia Flyers 2013-14 Year In Review: Claude Giroux

Katie Spence

Claude Giroux is the Flyers' best player, and despite an ugly slump to start the season, he played like the Flyers' best player all year long.

Claude Giroux

Age: 26 (January 12, 1988)
Contract Status: Signed at $8.275m per year through 2022

2013-14 Stats

GP TOI/GP Goals Assists Points
82 20:26 28 58 86
Corsi For Corsi Rel Quality of Comp. (TOI%) Zone Start % PDO
53.2% (3) 4.8% (3) 29.5% (1) 54.8% (7) 101.2% (5)

(Numbers in parentheses indicate descending rank among regular Flyers players at his position, i.e. one of the team's top eight defensemen or top 13 forwards.)

Most frequent forward lines

Linemates Goals For% Corsi For% OZ/DZ%
Scott Hartnell, Jakub Voracek 61.5% (+24 / -15) 57.3% 60.2%
Michael Raffl, Jakub Voracek 71.4% (+15 / -6) 59.7% 67.6%
Wayne Simmonds, Scott Hartnell 25.0% (+1 / -3) 55.6% 50.0%

Slumps happen

Claude Giroux's 2013-14 season start off as a disaster, and with him went the Philadelphia Flyers. He didn't register a single point in the first six games of the season, and it took him until November 9 -- in the 16th game of the season -- to record his first goal. In that span of 15 games, the Flyers won just four times and fired their head coach.

But that early season slump quickly became ancient history, as did the Flyers ugly rough start. And really, it makes the rest of his season look even more impressive. Giroux finished the season with 86 points in 82 games, a clearly impressive 1.05 points per game mark for the year. But if you're to eliminate his that slump that he started the year with, he had 79 points in 67 games, an even more impressive 1.18 point per game mark.

You obviously can't just throw out 15 games of Giroux's season when doing an overall analysis of his season, but you can do it when trying to illustrate just how impressive the majority of his year was.

And the reality is that no player, not even Claude Giroux, is immune from a lengthy cold streak.

A Hart-worthy season

The Hart Trophy goes to the NHL player judged most valuable to his team. Claude Giroux is a finalist for this trophy this season, and that is completely deserving. Giroux will almost certainly come in third behind Sidney Crosby and Ryan Getzlaf, but that shouldn't take away from the strength of his season.

In games where Giroux failed to register a point, the Flyers won just four times. It really goes without saying since he's their leading scorer, but the Flyers rely on Giroux more than anybody, and when he's not going, the team isn't going.

He's also the catalyst of that first power play unit, and we all know just how much the Flyers rely on their special teams. He's a huge part of the reason why that first PP unit was so dang good this past year -- the locomotive that keeps the power play production going. (Wayne Simmonds, for the record, is the little pointy thing on the front of the train that pushes your car out of the way when you leave it on the tracks.)

Giroux played more at even strength than any other Flyers forward this season: 15:44 per game, or 1:22 per game more than any other forward. He also played 20 seconds per game more than any other forward on the power play.

He led the team in points, led them in assists, was second in goals, won the majority of his faceoffs, was third on the team in terms of shot differential percentage, and as you'd expect, he did all of this while playing largely against the opponents' top defensive players.

He plays a lot of hockey, and when he does it, he's really good at it. The Flyers would be totally screwed without him.

Preseason expectations

Let's check back on our season preview for Claude Giroux and see what we thought could happen with him this year.

Best case...

Voracek keeps up his insane pace next year, Hartnell bounces back to his 2011-12 form, and the Flyers top line is one of the league's most dangerous offensive weapons. Giroux scores 100-plus points and contends for the Art Ross Trophy. Long ginger playoff beard, too.

Worst case...

His linemates struggle and Giroux can't pick up the slack. Peter Laviolette winds up shuffling the lines with way too much frequency and nobody can really find a groove.

Verdict

So it wasn't perfect.

Giroux still had that lengthy slump, and it wasn't all that fun. Scott Hartnell didn't have a great year, and Jakub Voracek was unable to reproduce the insane, impossible pace he had during the lockout-shortened year. As a result, the top line wasn't as deadly as we initially hoped it could be, and there are now rumors that GM Ron Hextall might be out to bring in another winger for that line as a result. The Art Ross Trophy thing didn't happen.

But Giroux still had a fantastic season by just about all measures. He finished third in the league in scoring and is a deserved Hart Trophy finalist. He's just flat-out a great hockey player, and if you disagree, you probably don't watch the Flyers that much. Perhaps the best news? While he didn't win the Art Ross and likely won't win the Hart this year, there's no reason to think he doesn't have one or both of those awards in his future.

Claude Giroux is only going to get better.

***

Feel free to vote in the poll below to grade Claude Giroux's season on a scale from 1 to 10. Vote based on your expectations for him coming into the season -- i.e. 1 being "he was incredibly disappointing and I want him out now", 10 being "he was outstanding even beyond my craziest expectations".

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