(Kate Frese/Sports Talk Philly)
By Matt Mastrogiovanni, Sports Talk Philly staff writer
Since former GM Bobby Clarke forgot his name back in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, Claude Giroux has been a keystone of the Flyers offense and the team overall. Giroux has scored many memorable goals over the years both in-game as well as shootouts. His hands are no joke and he's made it known to each and every team around the National Hockey League.
Giroux's production has been constant in the past, yet it has dropped off in recent years, especially last season when Giroux posted 14 goals, the lowest in an 82-game season in his career, and 58 points, the lowest points total of his career since his first full season in 2009-10 (47).
The star center had seen a noticeable decline in points in recent years, but particularly a drop in goals scored in the last season. In essentially the prime of his career, it feels as if he should be posting many more points.
However, the solution to the problem could be simple: just shoot more.
Giroux's 58-point season in 2016-17 was coupled with another low, the lowest shot total in Giroux's career since his first full 82-game season. Giroux took 199 shots last season, the fewest since 145 in 2009-10. Could it just be as simple as the captain needing to shoot the puck more.
In previous seasons, Giroux broke the 20-goal mark consistently. If not for the lockout-shortened season in 2013, Giroux would have posted six straight seasons with 20 goals or more, including matching a career-high in goals with 28 in 2011-12 and 2013-14.
Since Giroux took over as captain at the start of the lockout-shortened 2013 season, the Flyers have made the playoffs twice and missed the playoffs twice. Even looking back to a season before that, Giroux's career year in 2011-12, the captain's shooting percentage indicates the team's success.
In 2011-12, Giroux had an 11.6 shooting percentage and took 242 shots in 77 games. The next season, in 48 games, Giroux had a 9.5 shooting percentage and took 137 shots. He followed that up with a 12.6 shooting percentage and took 223 shots in 2013-14, a playoff year for the Flyers. The next season, despite taking a career-high 279 shots, Giroux had a 9.0 shooting percentage and the Flyers missed the playoffs. Giroux took fewer shots in 2015-16, a total of 241, but had a similar shooting percentage of 9.1 percent, and the Flyers did make the playoffs that season.
But last season, the numbers tailed off considerably. On just 199 shots, third lowest in his career for a full season, Giroux had a 7.0 shooting percentage, the worst of his career.
It could be as simple as that. Shoot more and obviously more shots may go in. It also could be a lot more complicated. Many things didn't go right for the Flyers last season, mainly after their 10-game winning streak through the first half of December. It seems as if Giroux was caught in the lasting funk of the Flyers fall from grace.
What is certain is that in just a few weeks, we get to see Giroux and the Flyers with a clean slate. Perhaps just taking the shot and using more of a shoot-first mindset will be enough to bring Giroux back to the form that endeared him to Philadelphia as a rising star.
If not, then at the very least Giroux should have a better offensive core around him with more young, dynamic talent waiting in the wings. However it all comes together, I'm sure Flyers fans will focus more on the overall success of the team than just one player, even of Giroux's stature.