Giroux hit a career-low for a full season of just 58 points last season in 82 games. It was his lowest full-season total since he broke into the league with 47 points in 82 games in the 2009-10 season. Giroux was declining, and it was a lot sharper than most people expected. After recording 86 points in the 2013-14 season, Giroux’s point totals dropped in the next four seasons. He went from 86 to 73 to 67 and finally hitting what we hoped would be rock bottom at 58 last season.
If you looked at his trajectory, it wouldn’t have been surprising if Giroux plateaued at around 60 points, give or take a handful. However, this season was different. Last year Giroux was marred with nagging injuries after a shortened offseason. He had surgery in May, then came right back to play “meaningful” games in September with Team Canada at the World Cup of Hockey. Coming off of an injury is one thing, having a shortened offseason is another, and combining them together is never a good thing.
Giroux disappointed last season, there’s no doubt about that. He played through the full season as a shell of his former self, only coming to life a bit in the second half of the season. He showed signs of returning to form late last season, and that has carried over in a big way to this season. Ron Hextall said that we should expect a bounceback season from Giroux, but I don’t know if anyone expected this.
If you looked at Giroux’s stats over the past handful of seasons, he was falling right in line with the NHL’s aging curve. After a player hits his prime in the mid-20s, it is expected that his production will begin to decrease in his late 20s and into his 30s. Giroux was consistent with that coming into this season. You can read more about the aging curve over at Hockey Graphs.
His points per 60 minutes at 5v5 play had taken a sharp decline.
He peaked right around his low-to-mid 20s, with a P/60 of 1.98 or above from 2010 to 2014, or from ages 23-26. From there he dropped down to 1.42 in his age 27 season, 1.72 two years ago, and finally less than a point per 60 minutes (0.94) last year. It was worrisome a bit, but given Giroux’s skillset you thought that he might be able to bounce back, or at least stop the decline.
Looking at his raw point totals, prorated to a full 82-game season, you can see the same thing. Giroux was declining bit by bit every season, and was in danger of that continuing.
His prorated points total decreased by 12, 3, and then 12 again from 2014 to 2017.
There were reasons to be concerned coming into the season by looking at the stats, but there was more going on behind the scenes. Giroux’s career low-mark was due to extenuating circumstances touched on above. He had virtually no offseason training, only some rehab, and wasn’t fully 100% until at least halfway through the season.
Giroux wanted to show that he still had it, and he has started the 2017-18 season with a bang.
Claude Giroux ended the unofficial first half of the season with 52 points in 42 games. He is among the league leaders in points, an All-Star, and is just six points shy of matching his total from last season. He is on pace for a career-high 104 points in his age 30 season. That alone is impressive.
Giroux has flipped the aging curve on its head with a huge bounceback season.
He is on pace for 74 assists, which alone would outpace his point totals from the last three seasons. Giroux is not relying on the power play to get the job done either, as he’s been doing most of his damage at even strength.
33 of his 52 points have come at even strength this season, and his points per 60 minutes is at a career high. His primary points per 60 minutes (goals and primary assists) of 1.94 is higher than his total points per 60 minutes (goals, primary assists, secondary assists) than any of the previous three seasons.
Not only is Giroux getting the results of pucks in the back of the net, but the process is there as well. He is back on his puck possession game with strong numbers across the board. Both his corsi for percentage (shot attempts) and expected goals for percentage are at career-highs.
The one thing that Giroux hasn’t been doing as much is shooting the puck, but that could have something to do with his new position and linemates. He is using his vision and distributing the puck more, rather than firing shots on net, and it is working for him.
Claude Giroux came into this season on a mission, and he has outperformed everyone’s expectations. He is healthy, playing a less physically-demanding left wing position that should be able to extend his career, and he’s looking like a new and improved version of himself. Not only do the stats show how well he is playing, but you can see it on the ice as well. He has his swagger back and is making plays that he wouldn’t have even thought about making last season.
Both Giroux and the Flyers deserve a lot of credit for the decision to move the face of the franchise to left wing after playing his whole career as a center. Sean Couturier has helped out a lot as well, with him becoming a force on the top line and a potential Selke Trophy candidate, but his success goes hand in hand with Giroux. Couturier and Giroux have played every game together this season and they are thriving off of each other.
It’s been great to see Giroux playing at a high level again, especially after such a tough road last season. He had a fantastic first half to the season and hopefully he can keep it up and lead the Flyers into the playoffs with a strong second half.
Happy 30th Birthday, Claude!
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