Sorry about the lack of recap last night, but let's be real about it. Eight of you would have read it. Anyway, here's what you need to know: the Flyers won in ridiculously convincing fashion, scoring four goals in the first period. The early lead was a nice change of pace. Ilya Bryzgalov made a bunch of saves, Danny Briere took a few stick penalties. Claude Giroux scored. The power play was good.
The Flyers are pretty good. Kind of the whole story there.
So let's pivot a little bit. There was a bit of a debate on Twitter last night and into this morning about the game coming up on Thursday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins. (Yes, we're skipping over the Buffalo game on Wednesday here, but whatever.) Unbelievably, it'll be a week into December by the time the Flyers play the Penguins for the first time on the year, but hey, that just means we get to see Sidney Crosby all six times this year. Ugh.
That's the point of this debate, though. Sam Carchidi at the Inquirer has said more than once this season that Sidney Crosby and Claude Giroux are the best two players in the game right now, and he reasserted that point again after the game last night. Yes, he says it's an arguable point, and that's totally fair.
I think it's an interesting debate, though, so let's have it. (Beware: there are complementary words written about Sidney Crosby after the jump, and if you can't stomach that, you might want to ignore the rest of this story. Or you could not be a baby and realize that despite the fact that he's a Penguin, he's an unreal hockey player.)
As much as it bugs me as a Flyers fan to list his accomplishments, let's look at Crosby's resume. It's impressive -- probably as impressive as it gets. You can skip the next two paragraphs if you'd like.
He's been the QMJHL MVP, the QMJHL Playoff MVP, QMJHL Rookie of the Year, CHL Rookie of the Year, CHL Player of the Year, the NHL's leading goal scorer, the NHL's leading scorer, NHL MVP, he's been to four NHL All-Star Games, has won gold at the IIHF World Juniors, gold at the Olympics and he has a Stanley Cup.
Crosby scored 102 points in his first NHL season, 120 in his second. He's scored more than 100 points in every full season he's played. He has 584 points in 419 games.
On the flip side, Giroux is a year younger than Crosby, and he does have some of the same accolades: QMJHL Playoff MVP, a QMJHL title, and gold at the World Juniors in 2008. He's been an NHL All-Star once, last season at the game in Carolina.
But his NHL numbers really can't be compared. Giroux didn't even start his first professional season in the NHL, playing 33 games with the Phantoms before being called up. He had just 47 points in his first full NHL season, and broke out a year ago with 76 points in 82 games.
Of course, Giroux was really just a complementary piece on those Flyers teams in his first few years. He wasn't getting first line minutes, he wasn't seeing nearly as much special teams time. He was overshadowed by Mike Richards and Jeff Carter on those teams, but that's where the comparison gets awkward for me. Until this season, Giroux wasn't even the best player on his team, let alone up there with the best players in the league.
That's all changed this year though. He's been thrust to the top of the list in terms of offensive players on this Flyers team, and he's taking all of that unbelievable talent we know he's had and has finally been able to put it to use in a leading role.
The results have been just as pretty: 32 points through 25 games leads the NHL, in a tie with Phil Kessel. His 1.28 points per game is second in the league.... to Sidney Crosby, who's only played seven games so far this year thanks to his injury.
If you compare the two players over the course of their careers to date, Giroux and Crosby don't match up at all. But if you compare them right this second, as they both pace their teams offensively, they certainly match up very well and are without a doubt two of the best players in the game. It's a fair comparison to make.
To me, though, it just feels a little dishonest. You can't ignore the track record, and really, Claude Giroux's only kept up this pace for a quarter of one season. Sidney Crosby has done it for six NHL seasons now, going on seven.
I love Claude Giroux, and he's been my favorite player to watch on this team -- and probably in the NHL, frankly -- since at least the 2010 playoffs. His skill is remarkable and I think he's going to be one of the best players in the league for a really long time. He's one of those guys you feel privileged to watch play the game, just like Crosby.
But right now, is it fair to compare the two players at all? Does Giroux still have some work to do before we compare him to the bonafide best player of his generation in Crosby?