The Philadelphia Flyers are the hottest team in the NHL after consecutive wins over the Boston Bruins, Washington Capitals, and Tampa Bay Lightning. They were dominant in the Eastern Conference round-robin, outscoring their three opponents 11-3. Almost the whole lineup played key roles in helping their team earn the Eastern Conference’s top playoff seed.
Carter Hart and Brian Elliott were solid in net, stopping 73 of 76 shots faced. Meanwhile, eight different players, including unusual suspects like Michael Raffl and Nate Thompson, scored a goal in the round-robin. Even Shayne Gostisbehere, who had previously played just five games in 2020, tallied two assists in his return to the Flyers lineup on Saturday. (from ‘James van Riemsdyk and Shayne Gostisbehere in Flyers lineup, Joel Farabee goes to top line,’ Philadelphia Inquirer, 08/07/2020)
There was one Flyer who was unusually quiet, however: team captain and potential Hockey Hall of Famer Claude Giroux, who was held pointless in all three games of the round-robin. He was the only forward on the team to play all three games and fail to register a point.
A Rare Pointless Streak for Giroux
It was hard to predict how any player would perform after a nearly five-month layoff, but few would have predicted Giroux to go pointless in the round-robin. He was coming off a strong regular season where he recorded 21 goals and 32 assists in 69 games. His 53 points were fourth-most on the team.
Giroux’s longest pointless streak of the regular season was four games, occurring in the first week of February. Besides that, he had just two other three-game pointless streaks this season. Throughout his career, Giroux has frequented Flyer scoresheets. Over 13 seasons, he has notched 815 points in 889 games, good for nearly a 0.92 point per game rate.
In the postseason Giroux has been just as good, if not better. Prior to this season’s round-robin, he had recorded 65 points in 69 career playoff games. His most dominant postseason came in 2012 when he helped the Flyers to the Eastern Conference Semifinal. That postseason, he notched eight goals and nine assists in 10 games. In his most recent playoff series in 2018, he had three points in six games.
Most players would hardly bat an eye at a three-game pointless streak, but given the level of success Giroux has had in his career, his current point drought is certainly a bit surprising.
Finding Other Ways to Contribute
Fortunately, Giroux has found other ways to contribute so far this postseason. Perhaps most notably, he led all Flyers with eight shots on goal in the round-robin. His three shots in the Bruins game tied for the team lead among all Flyer forwards.
Giroux also ate up a lot of time on ice (TOI), especially in the Bruins and Capitals games. During those two games, he averaged a 18:29 TOI which was second among all Flyer forwards to only Sean Couturier. In the Lightning game, a 4-1 victory, his services were less necessary as he played just 14:05.
Giroux was strong on face-offs, too. He won the majority of his draws in each game and finished the round-robin with a faceoff percentage of 58 percent. His best effort came in the Capitals game, when he won 8 of 12 faceoffs.
Lastly, Giroux also finished the round-robin as a plus-two. That’s not very surprising given that the Flyers heavily outscored their opponents, but it is still impressive that Giroux failed to record a negative plus-minus in a game.
Ultimately, the Flyers were just fine without Giroux scoring. They played some of their best hockey of the season and steamrolled their way to the top playoff seed in the Eastern Conference. Nonetheless, they cannot continue to count on the rest of the lineup to shoulder the scoring burden in the remainder of the postseason. Though Giroux has found other ways to contribute so far, he will need to start scoring soon. Fortunately, given his career success, it likely won’t take long for him to do so.