Anyone watching the Flyers – Penguins opening round playoff series, would be hard pressed to say that Philly rookie Claude Giroux, the kid the rest of the players simply call “G”, has not been the Flyers’ best player.
He is second on the team with two playoff goals and is tied for first on the team in playoff points with four in five games. As much as the league has been focused on rookie Bobby Ryan, Jerome Iginla and Alex Ovechkin, Giroux has matched all of them in points while getting much less ice time.
The most creative and confident passer to wear orange and black since Peter Forsberg, Giroux has been a godsend for the Flyers and has powered them to victory on more than one occasion.
Which begs the question: Why isn’t he on the power play?
Giroux averages just 15:33 of ice time per game. That tops only four forwards on the team, Daniel Carcillo (8:20), Darroll Powe (13:59), Arron Asham (8:13) and Jared Ross (4:35).
It is understandable that coach John Stevens wants a viable third line, that can challenge the Penguins’ third defensive pairing. Those things happen in the chess match that is playoff hockey.
But why keep your most prolific passer and puck handler off the power play? It doesn’t make sense.
Giroux roughly receives an average of 1:20 of ice time on the man-advantage per game. That’s a minute less than Joffrey Lupul, who has just one assist this series and receives 2:22. Giroux sees less power play time than seven other forwards, when he is potentially the most dangerous and is undoubtedly the hottest.
And a change in personnel is warranted.
The Flyers are 3-for-27 on the power play in the series, including going 0-for-8 in a 3-1 loss in game four. The man-advantage has been impotent, making for no excuse for Stevens not to make a slight change.
Giroux proven during the regular season that he can handle the power play time. He’s strong on the puck, doesn’t force bad passes and scored two goals and four assists on the pp in the regular season.
He has also been the Flyers most effective face off man, with a percentage of 44.2. This compares to Mike Richards’ 42.2 and Jeff Carter’s 43.4.
The Penguins have been aggressive on the penalty kill, charging the Flyers’ forwards, trying to get them to turn the puck over. And it has worked. But to counter that tactic, a team must move the puck quickly and confidently.
And there is no one better than Giroux to complete that task.