It wouldn't be surprising if law enforcement authorities in Philadelphia are flooded with missing persons reports Wednesday morning, because it's been nearly a week since anyone has heard from Claude Giroux.
The Philadelphia Flyers find themselves in a 2-1 hole in their first-round, best-of-seven series with the New York Rangers following a 4-1 loss Tuesday night at Wells Fargo Center, and once again, their captain was a non-entity.
Giroux had a secondary assist and two shots—his first two shots of the series—in what was his most productive game of the series, which isn't saying much. It's hard to win a playoff series when your potential Hart Trophy finalist fails to show up. That's something the Flyers are learning the hard way right now.
That was Claude Giroux's first shot on goal against NYR in 115 shifts. That's 311:19 (game time), 94 minutes (ice time) since Jan. 12.— Frank Seravalli (@DNFlyers) April 23, 2014
A secondary assist on Jakub Voracek's goal in Game 2 is Giroux's only five-on-five point of the series. Giroux has been a negative, Corsi-wise, in all five-on-five situations, as his shot differential through three games stands at minus-8, this despite him finishing plus-8 in that category on Tuesday.
Giroux and the Flyers played their best game of the series in Game 3 and were submarined by a couple of bad goals allowed by goaltender Ray Emery. But if Giroux doesn't score, the Flyers' chances of winning this series are almost entirely out the window.
The Flyers' success during the regular season was predicated almost entirely on Giroux producing.
Giroux had zero goals and seven assists in his first 15 games of the regular season; the Flyers were 4-10-1 in those contests.
Giroux had 28 goals and 79 points in his final 67 games of the regular season; the Flyers were 38-20-9 in those contests.
When Giroux failed to score a point in a game, the Flyers went 8-15-6; when Giroux had at least one point, the Flyers were 34-15-4.
When Giroux had at least four shots on net in a game, the Flyers went 15-6-4; when Giroux had three shots or fewer in a game, the Flyers went 27-24-6.
Giroux has points in two of three games against the Rangers, and the Flyers are 1-1 in those games. In nearly 55 minutes of ice time, he has seven total shot attempts (two on net, three missed, two blocked), which is only one more than fourth-line plugger Zac Rinaldo, who has seen the ice for about 19 minutes in three games.
This series is far from over, as the Flyers have shown improvement since a lopsided loss in Game 1. They were out-chanced in Game 2, but were opportunistic and aggressive over the final 50 minutes to rally for that win. They were the far better five-on-five team in Game 3, but it was the Rangers who made the most of their limited chances to take the series lead.
If the Flyers want to win, sure, they'll need goaltender Steve Mason to find his groove immediately when he very likely gets the start in Game 4 on Friday. That's only part of the equation—Giroux, who is unselfish by nature, needs to eschew the cross-ice pass for the back-door goal and fire more pucks on net. He needs to drive to the middle of the ice and test Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist far more than he has in this series.
Based on his postgame comments, Giroux feels pretty good about his team's chances in Game 4 (via The Record's Tom Gulitti):
Claude Giroux: "We’ll be ready for Game 4. We’re going to tie up the series and go back to New York."— Tom Gulitti (@TGfireandice) April 23, 2014
As Giroux goes, so go the Flyers. Right now, the Flyers haven't even achieved liftoff.