Much has been said about Claude Giroux's lack of production in the first two games of this Eastern Conference First Round series against the New York Rangers.
The Rangers top two defensive units, Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi and Marc Staal-Anton Stralman, have gone up against Giroux's line almost equally and have had a lot of success in shutting Giroux and his linemates down.
Giroux, Jakub Voracek and Scott Hartnell have combined for just one goal in the series thus far, and that was on a great individual effort from Voracek in Game 2, when he beat McDonagh to the outside with speed and cut in on goal. Overall in the series, those three are worse than break-even in terms of shot attempt differential while they're on the ice.
Simply put, they're getting beaten by the Rangers so far, and that's not a good recipe for the Flyers in this series. They need even strength production from their top line -- especially Giroux.
Giroux is the engine for that line, and in a lot of ways the whole team. When he gets frustrated, like most great players, he tries to do too much with the puck. He skates around a lot, passes the puck too much, doesn't do much shooting. Craig Berube alluded to this earlier Tuesday when asked what Giroux can do to get on the board.
"He can shoot," Berube said. "He worked hard and you have to keep continuing to work hard and find shots."
"They're tight checking. They're good at it. The whole team needs to find ways to get more pucks to the net. It's more of a mentality thing I think right now, with us. We usually shoot the puck and we need to shoot it from everywhere, get it on net. He's going to get checked. He's got to fight through it and I think he understands that and is working hard and doing that."
Forget goals: Giroux has been held off the shot chart for two games in a row now. He hasn't gotten a single puck on net in this series. So I wanted to answer a simple question: how many times has this happened to Giroux in the past?
Not many. In total, Giroux has only been held without a shot on goal 63 times in his career, spanning 465 regular season and playoff games. He's been held without a shot in back-to-back games on just eight occasions:
- April 4-7, 2009 vs. Ottawa and Florida
- November 12-14, 2009 vs. Ottawa and Buffalo
- January 19-21, 2010 vs. Columbus and NY Rangers
- March 18-20, 2010 vs. Dallas and Atlanta (rip)
- May 29-31, 2010 vs. Chicago (in the Stanley Cup Final)
- January 8-11, 2011 vs. New Jersey, twice
- April 24-26, 2011 vs. Pittsburgh and NY Islanders
- April 17-20, 2014 vs. NY Rangers (right now!)
Notice that until this week, Giroux went the equivalent of three full seasons without going shotless in back-to-back games. That corresponds pretty well with his jump to first-line center following the Mike Richards and Jeff Carter trades before the 2011-12 season, too.
Never in his NHL career has Giroux been held without a shot on goal in three straight games, so if he doesn't get one tonight, that will be an unfortunately-timed first for him.
Obviously, none of this past history means Claude Giroux will get a shot on goal tonight, and even if he does get one through, that doesn't mean the Flyers have won the first line battle vs. the Rangers. But it's still interesting to look at, because if this continues tonight, it's unprecedented for Giroux in his career.
It also means that Giroux's probably going to get some pucks through soon. He's not typically held down for all that long, and that bodes well as the Flyers go forward.