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Preview: Flyers take on the Predators in a landmark for the franchise

And a possible goodbye.

NHL: New York Rangers at Philadelphia Flyers Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports

The Flyers will host the Nashville Predators tonight at the Wells Fargo Center as some sort of after-party to their ceremony honoring captain Claude Giroux and his 1,000th game. The ceremony is scheduled to begin at 7:00 p.m. EST, with puck drop coming at 7:15.

Somehow, things have worked out so that Giroux’s millennium mark is coming just days before this season’s trade deadline in the final season of his current contract. Thanks to the Flyers’ futility this season (and last as well), Giroux is the biggest name on everyone’s trade radar, despite his expressed desire to remain in Philadelphia for his entire career and his full no movement clause.

It’s a happy coincidence; we all have an excuse to talk about him and honor him and have it double as a goodbye. Tonight’s ceremony may be under the guise of a statistical milestone, but it’s also not-so-secretly the capper to a Philadelphia farewell tour that now feels like it’s weeks-long at this point.

If the Flyers do trade Claude Giroux, he will have 1,000, 1,001, or 1,002 games played as a Flyer, as the deadline is on Monday. It was a tight squeeze, but they’ve made it.

So, about that game: the Flyers are generally pretty bad and the Predators are having a strong season at 35-21-4. Nashville has allowed the seventh-least goals per game this season and are likely to make the playoffs, either as a top three team in the Central or as a Western Conference wild card.

The Flyers have lost their last three, plus 11 of their last 13 (and, you know, 41 of their last 59), while the Preds are heating up with two wins in a row and 5 in their last 6. It’s not a game I would normally expect the Flyers to win, but if they could pull it out tonight, I wouldn’t ask for a single ‘nother win for the rest of the season.

Projected Flyers lines:

Morgan Frost—Claude Giroux—Travis Konecny
James van Riemsdyk—Derick Brassard—Cam Atkinson
Oskar Lindblom—Kevin Hayes—Joel Farabee
Gerry Mayhew—Patrick Brown—Zack MacEwen

Ivan Provorov—Cam York
Travis Sanheim—Rasmus Ristolainen
Keith Yandle—Justin Braun

Carter Hart
(Martin Jones)

Projected Predators lines:

Filip Forsberg—Ryan Johansen—Matt Duchene
Luke Kunin—Mikael Granlund—Eeli Tolvanen
Philip Tomasino—Michael McCarron—Nick Cousins
Tanner Jeannot—Colton Sissons—Yakov Trenin

Roman Josi—Dante Fabbro
Mattias Ekholm—Alexandre Carrier
Ben Harpur—Phillippe Myers

Juuse Saros
(David Rittich)

Keep an eye on:

  • Claude Giroux, who is currently the longest-tenured athlete in Philadelphia, with 15 seasons. There is only one athlete in all of Philadelphia sports history who has spent more than 15 seasons here: Mike Schmidt, who played for the Phillies for 18 seasons. There have been three other players with 15 seasons: Bobby Clarke for the Flyers and Jimmy Rollins and Steve Carlton for the Phillies.
  • Roman Josi, who is leading the Predators in points with 69 points in 54 games, an impressive feat for a defenseman.
  • Claude Giroux, who is currently the NHL’s fifth-longest tenured captain (behind Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews, Alex Ovechkin, and Ryan Getzlaf) and the Flyers’ longest tenured captain by seasons, by actual time, and by games played.
  • Filip Forsberg, is on his way to a career high in points in the last year of his contract. He’s got 55 in 47 games, on pace for 95 in an 82-game season.
  • Gavin Giroux, who has made many public appearances during his dad’s 15th season in the NHL, most notably at the All-Star Game, where he was spotted on the ice during the skills competition, in the locker room kicking those other All-Star kids asses at whatever they were doing, and in the stands waving at the ice.

Stray stats:

  • Claude Giroux is the 67th player in NHL history to play 1,000 games with the same franchise. The only two teams he’s played less games against than he has against the Nashville Predators are the Vegas Golden Knights and the Seattle Kraken. He has 15 points in 17 games against Nashville.
  • Claude Giroux has assisted four different 100th career goals—Jakub Voráček, Wayne Simmonds, Sean Couturier, and Nikolai Zherdev, plus three more 150th career goals—Simmonds, Couturier, and Jeff Carter. He also assisted on Jaromir Jágr’s 650th and Scott Hartnell’s 250th. He has assisted on six players’ first career goal: Erik Gustafsson, Jason Akeson, Shayne Gostisbehere, Robert Hagg, Phillippe Myers, and Wade Allison. He recorded the primary assist on Gostisbehere’s next four goals, as well.
  • There have been three seasons during Claude Giroux’s career that have been shortened due to circumstances beyond his control: the 2012-13 season, which started late following the lockout; the 2019-2020 season, which ended early thanks to the novel coronavirus; and the 2020-21 season, which only scheduled 54 games because of the ongoing pandemic. If Giroux had played in all of the available missed games, that’s 75 more games, and if he scored at a rate similar to his scoring rate for each of those seasons (1.00 points per game in ‘12-13, .76 in ‘19-20, and .78 in ‘20-21), he’d have roughly 66 more points than the 900 he currently has. The lockout season is especially painful for his career statline, as he scored 48 in 48 games that year, sandwiched between a 93 point 2011-12 and an 86 point 2013-14.
  • Claude Giroux has assisted on 78 goals scored by Jakub Voráček, the most of any player. He has assisted on 69 Wayne Simmonds goals, 60 Sean Couturier goals, 47 Scott Hartnell goals, and 34 James van Riemsdyk goals. Voráček assisted on 96 of Giroux’s goals. Giroux and Voráček combined for 1,312 points during their 10 seasons together, the third-most of any duo during that time, and the fifth-highest of any duo of their generation despite fewer seasons together than the rest of the top four.
  • Over the course of his career, Claude Giroux has recorded 42 points (10 goals, 32 assists) against Henrik Lundqvist, the most of any opposing goaltender. He has 37 points (15 goals, 22 assists) against Marc-Andre Fleury and 29 against Braden Holtby (13 goals, 16 assists). He has 29 career points (9 goals, 20 assists) with the net empty. He has no goals and one assist against tonight’s starter for Nashville, Juuse Saros.
  • Claude Giroux has only committed two non-fighting major penalties—both game misconducts—called against him in his regular season career. He has been penalized in 170 of his 999 career games; he has been called for more than one penalty in 17 of those games. On March 22, 2014, he somehow managed to get a hooking call and a holding call on the same play, then get called for a hook and a cross-check later in the game, and still find a way to play 18 minutes and assist on 2 goals in a Flyers win over the St. Louis Blues. He has had four career regular season fights: Marek Svatos in a loss to the Colorado Avalanche in 2009, Matt Carkner in a win over the Ottawa Senators in 2011, Dylan Reese in a loss to the New York Islanders in 2012, and Nick Leddy in a loss to the Islanders in 2015.
  • Of the 51 active players who have played at least 1,000 games, Claude Giroux has the fifth-highest points per game average with .90 points per game.