After going all postseason without a goal, Claude Giroux broke through when the Philadelphia Flyers needed it the most. The captain came up big with a goal and an assist in his best game of the playoffs to keep his team alive.
Giroux responded to Alain Vigneault’s message with authority. Whether you want to talk about changing his legacy, what type of pants he was wearing, or what-have-you, Giroux came through in the clutch on Tuesday night to extend the series to six games.
The captain got on the board with an even-strength goal (at home!) to tie the game at one in the latter stages of the second period. Then, after a third-period collapse, Giroux worked hard behind the net to set up Ivan Provorov’s point shot that was deflected in by Scott Laughton to win the game in overtime.
It was one of the best games of the playoffs for Giroux.
Not including Sean Couturier, who left the game after the second period, Giroux and Voracek led the Flyers in Corsi-For Percentage (72.23% and 75% respectively) and Expected Goals-For Percentage (86.37% and 84.08%) in Game 5. The Islanders had just one scoring chance with Giroux on the ice, while the Flyers racked up eight (including three high-danger chances). The Flyers also outscored the Islanders 2-0 with Giroux on the ice.
That has been a theme throughout this series – and really the entire postseason. The Flyers have 10 goals to the Islanders’ 12 at 5-on-5 play in the series. Giroux has been on the ice for the majority (six) of them, while only allowing three.
In the Flyers’ 11 playoff games (not including round-robin), they have been outscored 17-18 at 5-on-5 play. However, the Flyers have a 9-6 advantage with Giroux on the ice. If you expand it to all situations to include the power play, Giroux has been on the ice for 13 of the Flyers’ 22 goals and nine of 29 goals against. Ideally, you want to see more, but Giroux has been a part of the majority of the Flyers’ goals in the playoffs.
Game 5 was the breakthrough, but Giroux has actually now had a few strong games in a row. He played well in Game 4 and came inches from scoring a few times, and has been one of the best Flyers on the ice throughout the series. Yes, he has had poor stretches, just like everyone else, but Giroux (and his line) have been able to drive play, create chances, and finally find the back of the net.
The start of the series wasn’t so great for Giroux. The top line struggled in Game 1 with the worst possession numbers out of all the Flyers lines, but Giroux and Co. bounced back in Game 2 and that play has been there throughout the rest of the series. Giroux has been at the forefront of that effort.
Since Game 2 (August 26), Voracek, Giroux, and Couturier have the best Corsi-For Percentage in the playoffs with 72.50%, 71.31, and 70.75% respectively. The Flyers have out-attempted the Islanders 87-35, outshot them 38-20, and, most importantly, outscored them 6-2 in 64:40 of ice time at 5-on-5 play with Giroux on the ice since Game 2.
Game 1 was an unacceptable performance from the Flyers’ top players, but they have responded in a big way. After a disappointing loss in Game 3, the pressure was back on for Games 4 and 5. Although the Flyers didn’t win Game 4, and fell behind 3-1 in the series in the process, there were some positive signs in the game that they might not be dead yet. Giroux and the top line were one of those signs. They proved that Game 4 wasn’t a fluke with a similar showing in Game 5, this time finding the back of the net a few times.
In the last two games, the Flyers have been dominant with Claude Giroux on the ice. In 34-and-a-half minutes at even strength, the Flyers have:
- 53-16 shot attempts (76.81% CF)
- 23-8 shots on goal (74.19% SF)
- 22-7 scoring chances (85.86% SCF)
- 1.69-0.44 expected goals (79.34% xGF)
- 3-0 goals
It may be frustrating watching Giroux pass up shot attempts, or his shots simply being blocked or stopped, but you can’t question his effort and process. He has been working to win battles – which led to both overtime goals –, creating chances, and hopefully finding the back of the net will spark more results from the captain.
Not only has Giroux helped his linemates and team control the puck, but he’s been creating more offense for himself as well. He has had at least three shot attempts and multiple scoring chances in each game of this series – including three high-danger chances over the past two games.
Giroux put on the required pants for Game 5 and it gave the Flyers some hope. A 3-1 deficit is tough to overcome, but some doubt starts to creep into the Islanders’ heads after Game 5.
The Flyers still have their backs against the wall in a win-or-go-home (literally) scenario, but some of that pressure shifts to the Islanders. The Flyers (and Vigneault) have come back from a 3-1 deficit before, and Giroux’s performance in Game 5 extended the series to give them a chance to do it again.
All stats via Natural Stat Trick