Claude Giroux has turned disappointing start into potential Hart candidacy
With one goal and two assists Friday against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Claude Giroux of the Philadelphia Flyers raised his totals to 25 goals and 53 assists in 73 games, good for third overall in NHL scoring.
It's quite a feat considering Giroux didn't score a goal until the 16th game of the season, registering only seven assists prior to his first tally.
Since scoring that first goal, the 26-year old has gone on an absolute tear, recording 70 points (24 goals, 46 assists) in 57 games, good for a 1.23 point per game average. At that rate, he'd be in line to break the 100-point barrier over the course of an 82-game season.
Giroux also leads all Flyers' forward in average ice time (20:33) while being used both on the power play and the penalty kill. On top of that, he sits second on the team among forwards in Relative Corsi at 5-on 5 in close situations (behind Jakub Vorace), sitting at +5.6 percent
His turnaround also coincides with the Flyers' resurgence; after going 3-8-0 to start the season, Philadelphia has now accumulated 85 points with a record of 38-27-7, good for third in the Metropolitan Division (one point back of the New York Rangers with two games in hand), while all but validating Giroux's playoff guarantee.
As such, Pierre LeBrun of ESPN has touted Giroux as a Hart Trophy finalist (along with Sidney Crosby and Ryan Getzlaf), citing the obvious impact that his play has had on his team.
If Giroux continues to play at this high-level while helping his team earn home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs after a dreadful start to the season, he will certainly belong in that conversation.
Not bad for a guy who wasn't selected for Canada's Olympic team.