The captain of the Philadelphia Flyers, who was once deemed the "best player in the world" by his coach, is having one of the worst shooting seasons in the past decade.
His personal shooting percentage at even strength is the fourth worst this season of all forwards with 750 minutes played. Beyond that, his current 5v5 shooting percentage is 4.46 percent , which would be the 22nd worst single season shooting percentage in the past 12 seasons.
Despite all of this Claude Giroux has been among the league leaders in points this season. He currently sits tied for 11th in the league with 61 points through 65 games. Furthermore, his other work at even strength can't be overlooked. He continually performs well in all zones against the opposition's best players. He is still one of the top possession players on the team, behind only Michael Raffl and the aforementioned Voracek.
Even with all of this, Claude is having a down year by his standards. He only has eight even strength goals, all of which are on the road. A few weeks ago this narrative was played loudly by the reporters and fans surrounding the team.
Giroux has seven even-strength goals on the road this season but still looking for his first at home.— wayne fish (@waynefish1) March 4, 2015
Good time for Giroux's first even-strength goal at home this season.— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) February 22, 2015
With all of the hubbub surrounding Giroux's poor scoring performance this and noticing his low shooting percentage, I wanted to delve into what might be the cause of the problem.
Giroux's shooting percentage by season
The black line and gray area underneath indicates his career shooting percentage of 9.33%.
Claude has shot at a consistent rate over three of his past five seasons, hovering around 11.50% in the 2010-11, 2011-12 and 2013-14 seasons. Not even a late summer golfing injury could hold him back. Unfortunately the two seasons not mentioned above saw his shooting percentage take a dive.
The lockout shortened season had a weird feel to it all around, and a shooting percentage around seven was still reasonable for Giroux. However, this season is completely baffling at a shooting percentage under four and a half. The significant drop in performance from a shooting perspective certainly makes you think about what might be the cause.
Is Claude Giroux shooting too much?
The black line and gray area underneath once again indicates his career iCorsi per 60 minutes of 13.47. iCorsi is simply the number of shot attempts (on goal + blocked + missed).
The number of shot attempts that Giroux has taken over the past few seasons has remained relatively constant. The only big increase you see is from 2010-2011 to 2011-2012 when Giroux really took his game to the next level. From there for the next three seasons he attempted anywhere from 13.5 to 15.5 shots per 60 minutes.
This season Giroux has taken attempted a lot more shots than in recent years. 17.19 attempts per 60 is around four more than last season. Hockey players are human and it would make sense that Claude is pressing a bit, throwing the puck on net in hopes of creating something.
Is he pressing too much? Possibly. His increase in shot attempts could also be due to the emergence of Jakub Voracek who played alongside him for the majority of the season. The addition of a superstar winger will improve anyone's game.
On the other hand, wanting to get the monkey off his back, as they say, could have a bit of an impact on Giroux's overall view of the game. But I would highly doubt that any "slump" he is in influences a split-second decision on the ice.
Does Giroux need better shot selection?
First up is the heat map of all of Giroux's 2013-14 even strength shots and goals.
And next is the heat map of all of Giroux's 2014-15 even strength shots and goals.
At first glance there isn't much of a difference. He is getting a lot of chances from his hot spots and is firing away at will. It even appears that he is getting better shot opportunities this season with more attempts from right in front of, if not in, the blue paint.
In the above overlay, Giroux's shots from '13-14 are in the normal colors while this season's are inverted. This gives a much clearer picture of the differences in shot selection.
This season Giroux is getting a lot of opportunities right in front and from that left hash mark, but not really from anywhere else. Last season he had a bevy of attempts from all over the slot. He attacked the portion of the ice between the face-off circles at will. This season he is shooting from slightly further out, but still in the high slot.
The average distance of his shot from last season (34 feet) to this season (37 feet) hasn't really changed all that much. He has taken more shots from the outside this season, but his inside presence has balanced that out a bit. He hasn't been attacking the slot as well, but that shouldn't cause such a huge decrease in shooting percentage. Hockey is a funny game sometimes.
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Giroux has a career shooting percentage of nearly 10 percent because he is a shooter. His goals will come and there is no need to panic. The "zero even strength goals at home" narrative is not only annoying but has become a parody of itself at this point.
Giroux has played well this season and the goals will come. Sometimes the bounces don't go your way, but Giroux has had an incredible season even with such a low shooting percentage and that should not be overlooked.
It is tough to simply blame "bounces" or luck on a player's season, but he will regress to the mean at some point. Hopefully sooner rather than later.
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Heat maps courtesy of Sporting Charts. Charts are as of March 6.