This year more than ever, the race for the Hart Trophy is wide open. All week, the NHL writing staff at Full Press Coverage will Make the Case for each of the top contenders. Next up: Claude Giroux.
Today I get to make the case for Claude Giroux to win the Hart Trophy. The Philadelphia Flyers have clinched a wild-card spot, and it is big thanks to their captain, Claude Giroux. In a game where his team needed to win to get into the playoffs, he put up a hat trick and a plus-4 rating en route to a 5-0 whitewash of the New York Rangers.
But you see, it is not just that one game. Giroux quietly put up a 102 point season. He has been the leader of the Flyers this year and is an integral part of their success. Giroux has made a strong case to be the MVP, however, many wouldn’t have really known it; especially given how the Penguins steal the spotlight in the Keystone state and on a national scale.
With that said, it has indeed happened. As mentioned above, Giroux capped off his great season with a hat-trick on Saturday. That win helped propel his Flyers into the playoffs. And it happened in the national spotlight with NBC televising its final regular season broadcast.
Making The Case for Hart Trophy
What makes Giroux an MVP candidate? What makes Giroux more worthy than the other five players in this feature despite only having one game-winning goal while the other five players had at least seven?
Giroux finished the season with 102 points (34 goals, and 68 assists) and was the Flyers’ leading scorer by a whopping 17 points. 102 points were good for second in the NHL behind Connor McDavid.
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To me, it is amazing that such a great season could fly so far under the radar. Especially considering how much of his play directly impacted the Flyers on the ice. Giroux had a big hand in the Flyers’ making the playoffs because of his scoring touch and ability to set up goals for players such as Sean Couturier on the power play. He was the anchor of the Flyers’ power play that finished just 15th in the NHL but had a success rate of over 20 percent which is not too shabby.
Why is this important? Why does Giroux’s offensive ability have such an impact on the team? The simple answer is, the Flyers goaltending was shaky during the regular season; and their defense was not much better.
So therefore what that means is that the Flyers’ offense has to score in order to have success. And even if that does happen, there is no guarantee that they will win with that goaltending.
Looking Ahead: The Playoffs and Beyond
Now that the season is behind us. Giroux and company will look ahead to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Their opening round opponent is none other than the Pittsburgh Penguins, so right off the bat, we get to see why Giroux will have to be the reason Philadelphia makes it into the second round.
Giroux is going to have to lead the team in the playoffs like he did in the regular season. Because if the Penguins shut him down, the Flyers are in huge trouble. Because you cannot count on the goaltending to help, they have not done so much in the regular season. There is no better time than now to do start playing well, but I do not see it happening.
As far as whether Giroux can continue to put up this type of production in the future? I don’t see it, this is a surprise season in of itself. No one expected this out of Giroux and I am not certain it is sustainable. He is getting older and there is no assurance the team around him will be as dynamic as it was this season.
The main reason I think Kucherov can sustain his ways, if not excel, is the fact that he and Stamkos are going to be linemates for as long as they are both in Tampa Bay. Furthermore, Kucherov and Stamkos are both very young and very talented hockey players who should only build on that success.