With the new NHL season now 6 days away, excitement is beginning to build. Philadelphia fans are itching to see the Flyers hit the Ice after watching their team make huge strides in Alain Vigneault’s first season. One man who will be crucial, as ever, in turning hopes into a reality, will be Claude Giroux.
Giroux is now 33-years-old and has experienced a lot since he was selected 22nd overall by the team back in 2006. He’s come close to Stanley Cup glory before, but was on record stating that last season was the team’s brightest chance to end the draught since 2010. Losing to the Islanders left a sour taste in the mouth of the Captain, and he’s approaching 2021 with a new-found venom.
I think the way the season ended left a bad taste in my mouth. A lot of players on the team feel like we could have went a little further last year. It’s a learning experience for us, what we did in the playoffs. Knowing what we did that worked and what we did that didn’t work. I think it’s important that we talk about those things as a team and just learn from it.– Claude Giroux
Now a 6x NHL All-star, 5x Bobby Clarke Trophy winner, and mainstay through endless regimes, a Stanley Cup is one of the only things evading what has been a remarkable career. He’s hungry to change that and his Head Coach sees that energy radiating in practice.
Claude is hungry. I believe he is highly motivated to help this team win. I believe that last year, I believe it even more this year. He has come in here very focused, a lot of energy, a lot of emotion. Obviously, that transpires to the rest of the group. Like today was a physical scrimmage. There was intensity. I thought the pace picked up. It was longer, but it will still in my mind the guys were trying to play the right way and do the right things on the ice. That’s exactly what we talked to them about doing as far as their preparation. The tone will be set by Claude Giroux, by Jake Voracek, by Provy on defense, by all these guys that are Flyers and want to win. That’s what we are trying to do.– Alain Vigneault
That tone is being well and truly hammered into the Ice. As Training Camp draws to a close, physicality has become the name of the game. Before a day of video sessions and rest, the Flyers endured their most competitive day of practice yet. The day featured big hits and a lot of competition, and came as a direct knock-on effect from the impact Giroux has had on the younger guys, as Phil Myers explained.
I think you just see how competitive he is. He is a great leader. He is good with us young guys. I’ve always loved watching him play and it is really cool to see him in person and up close and just try to learn from things he does on the ice. He is such a skilled player and at the same time, he works so hard at both ends. Like I said, he is really competitive and if I can model some parts of my game after him, I think that’s a really good thing.– Phil Myers
At the time the season came to a grinding halt, Giroux had 53 points through 69 games and was only one goal away from surpassing his 2019 total.
In the playoffs, he tallied 8 points in 16 games (1 G, 7A). He was dominant in other areas though, such as faceoffs. After ending the regular season with a 59% win percentage, he kept up appearances in the postseason, winning 58% of them. The drop-off in production was a little concerning, but it shouldn’t raise alarm bells.
Giroux returns to the Flyers for another rodeo and this time, he’s surrounded by stability. It was a quiet offseason for the Flyers and that’s meant that the chemistry and familiarity that took a year to build in the first chapter of a new era, is only growing stronger.
Having the same coaching staff, having the same players. We added a few guys, but to know that we have a base already. Everybody knows what kind of game we’re trying to play. Being able to jump into the season and being able to play with the guys you have played with before, there won’t be a lot of players that you haven’t played with before and you have to get the chemistry going. Whoever we’re playing on the line with, you know a little bit about the guy and you’re able to adjust to who you are playing with. Hopefully it’s an advantage to us.– Claude Giroux
Giroux is hungry to feast on a new NHL season and with a firm base beneath him, and a team with huge upside around him, this could well prove to be another huge step on the road to that elusive Stanley Cup.
Photo Ctedit: Alex Mcintyre