When the captain is feeling it, you know it. And Claude Giroux was indeed feeling it on Thursday night in Pittsburgh.
Giroux was “demoted” to the third line, centering two new wingers in Oskar Lindblom and Nicolas Aube-Kubel. Demoted is in quotes because while Giroux was playing on a lower line, the line shuffling was more about the team’s play as a whole – especially with Joel Farabee out.
While Giroux was a center for the prime years of his career, he’s been shifted to wing over the last few years to prolong his success and career. On Thursday night, in a return to the center position, he threw it back to those prime seasons.
Giroux led the Flyers in more ways than one. He is always a leader on and off the ice, but he led in many statistical categories in the win as well.
Giroux had a game-high two goals and three points. Individually, he led the Flyers with six shot attempts and five scoring chances. He was tied for the most shots on goal (four) with Sean Couturier and Jakub Voracek, and high-danger chances (three) with Couturier.
Not only did Giroux put up good individual numbers, but he drove play as well. He led the Flyers in Corsi For Percentage (63.64%) and was behind only Ivan Provorov (62.98%) in Expected Goals For Percentage with 59.19%. The Flyers outshot the Penguins 10-5 with Giroux on the ice, including a 3-1 lead on the scoreboard. He was the only player to be on the ice for three goals for in the game.
“I thought he played extremely well tonight,” Alain Vigneault said of his captain. “He was good in our end when it was time to defend. He was good on the forecheck. That line with Kube and Oskar had some good jump there.”
Giroux had never played on a line with both Lindblom and Aube-Kubel before, but you couldn’t tell based on his play. The line as a whole was the best Flyers line in the game.
The Lindblom – Giroux – Aube-Kubel line had an on-ice Corsi For of 61.11% (11-7 shot attempts). Only the top line (van Riemsdyk – Couturier – Voracek) were close with a 55.56% CF (15-12 shot attempts). Giroux’s line, however, was the only line to score multiple goals at 5-on-5 play.
It should be noted that Laughton’s goal – that Giroux shot off the forward – came in the midst of a line change with Laughton, Giroux, and Konecny on the ice.
Obviously, he’s our captain, he’s our leader,” Laughton said of Giroux. “He brings us into the fight … I’m happy to see him get rewarded with two [goals] tonight.”
Giroux had those two goals as well as an assist. After Couturier’s opening power-play goal, Giroux was the player who created the rest of the offense for the Flyers in the game.
It was the second three-point game in as many weeks for the Flyers captain. Giroux had a three-assist night in a fantastic performance in his return from the COVID list against the Rangers.
The Flyers needed a response after falling into a 3-0 hole. Vigneault’s timeout pressed the reset button and the Flyers’ leadership group did the rest.