The Florida Panthers are on an absolute tear this season. They currently lead the Eastern Conference with a record of 52-15-6 with a total of 110 points. That also makes for second in the league, just behind the Colorado Avalanche. This is in large part to their high-powered offense that ranks first in the league with a 4.16 goals per game, goals overall with a franchise-record 308, and a goal differential of plus-94.
This past trade deadline, Florida wanted to make their offense even more dangerous than it already was. With that plan in mind, general manager Bill Zito traded for former Philadelphia Flyers forward and captain Claude Giroux on March 19. Since his arrival to Broward county, Giroux has been nothing but electric for his new team.
Giroux’s Great Run
Through his first 13 games with the Panthers, he’s tallied 16 points (two goals, 14 assists), seven of those points being on the power play. Furthermore, six of those 13 games were multi-point games for him. In addition, he’s helped the Cats in the faceoff circle tremendously with a 58.14% faceoff percentage (FO%) during his time in Florida. That brings his overall FO% to 60.41% on the season, which makes for third in the NHL overall. Additionally, it brings the team’s own FO% to 48.1 on the season, which makes for 23rd in the NHL. While it still isn’t great overall, it’s a drastic jump from being dead last in the league in that department a couple of months ago.
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The 34-year-old center continues to show why he’s still one of the best forwards in today’s game.
Giroux Has a Winning Team-Built Around Him This Season
Not only is his talent bringing him to glory in Sunrise, but the team around him brings out the best in him, and he does not have to be the number one guy to rely on as he did in Philadelphia. His new linemates have elevated his game and helped boost his point total in Jonathan Huberdeau and Sam Bennett. However, he believes he can form better chemistry.
“I think we can still find more chemistry, but we’ve been working hard together to find the chemistry that we want to have,” he said. “The three of us, I think every game we’re taking a step forward. We just have to keep working at it.”Claude Giroux on his line partners
This quote shows his great leadership skills, which was the main reason he was a captain as a Flyer for so many years. He managed to come into a new setting and make it work.
“When you go to a team new team, I feel like every day there’s something new to learn or to know,” he said following Monday’s practice at the Panthers IceDen. “It’s been a pretty good transition. Obviously the coaches and players help a lot with that, but it’s been pretty smooth.”Claude Giroux on transitioning to the Florida Panthers
Of course, there’s still plenty to learn in a new organization, but he’s hit the ground running since being dealt to the Panthers a month ago.
He’ll Be Electric for the Playoffs
The former Flyer will be perfect for playoff hockey. Through 85 postseason appearances, all with Philly, he scored 25 goals and assisted on 48 others. This includes a game-winning goal in a Stanley Cup Final game against the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010.
In addition to his point totals, he had a 51.9% win rate in the circle in postseason play throughout his career. Furthermore, he can show the ropes to those who may not have experienced playoff hockey to help them get comfortable in that type of atmosphere.
Will it Lead Him to the Promised Land?
After getting so close in 2010, it’s clear that he wants another shot at drinking from Lord Stanley’s Cup by the end of this season. As previously mentioned, Zito decided to swing for the fences and go all-in on this season by bringing in some big pieces in an attempt to go for a deep playoff run. With his playoff experience, his efficiency in the circle and his special team’s play, it was a no-brainer to try and bring in Giroux.
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As shown by their talent, this team should be able to make some noise in the playoffs. But with that portion of the season being completely different from the regular season, fans will have to watch to see if they can create havoc or fall apart as they have in years past.