Playing with a chip on his shoulder in Game 2 of Philadelphia's first-round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins, emerging star Claude Giroux set a team record for most points in a playoff game, recording six of them. That's three goals and three assists from a man who had 93 points in only 77 games during the regular season.
Giroux's relentless on the offensive end is simply remarkable. Too often do we see star players hold back in certain situations, preferring to settle down and move the puck around instead of instinctively creating scoring chances. Claude simply isn't like that.
When he recorded his first assist, the center dragged several Penguins defensemen down towards Fleury and the net, using his strength to get a shot off which rebounded out to a wide-open Max Talbot for a Flyers goal. If Giroux hadn't taken the puck straight towards the net, Talbot might not have gotten that open chance which he buried to cut the deficit to 2-1.
On his second goal, shorthanded, Giroux followed a streaking Talbot up the ice, and the former Penguin repaid Giroux by giving him a top-shelf opportunity which he took full advantage of. His ability to get up the ice and make plays is a talent that goes nearly unrivaled throughout the NHL.
For his second assist, which ended up leading to the game-winning goal by Jaromir Jagr, Giroux was circling the right point as the Flyers set up in the offensive zone.
Seeing a momentary lapse in crease-area defense by center Jordan Staal, Giroux fired a wrister at Fleury, and the soft rebound landed in Jagr's lap as the Flyers took a 6-5 lead. Not only does this show his wherewithal, but it also shows his ability to create plays indirectly for his teammates.
And perhaps most impressive was his tape-to-tape pass for Couturier's third goal and his own third assist.
First, Giroux stole the puck, racing up the ice as he drew the only Pittsburgh defenseman in the area. Then he put the puck right on Sean's stick as the 19-year-old converted with Fleury out of position. This instance is simply one of an excellent hockey player, showing his passing, skating and defensive abilities.
He would later score in an open-net situation to complete the hat trick and the six-point night.
All of these goals or assists by Giroux show his ability as an NHL star. He converts open opportunities, moves the puck to create scoring opportunities and finds teammates so that they can have easy chances as well.
If he continues to play well in these playoffs, Giroux will have cemented possibly one of the greatest seasons by a Flyer—ever. That's simply how good he's been.
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