For the Philadelphia Flyers, Claude Giroux has been the dominant offensive force in the early months of the 2011-12 season. Giroux leads the team with 16 goals and 23 assists, and his 39 points also lead all scorers in the NHL. Giroux has blossomed from a young, promising prospect into a superstar for the Flyers.
The Flyers revamped their roster this past offseason in order to sign All-Star goalie Ilya Bryzgalov. But the Flyers have also been decimated by injuries, losing both Giroux and team captain Chris Pronger to concussions in December. Giroux was injured December 10 when teammate Wayne Simmonds tried to jump over a fallen Giroux and struck Giroux in the helmet with his knee.
The loss of Giroux was expected to take some life out of one of the hottest teams in the league, and the magnitude of his absence became apparent in the Flyers 6-0 shutout loss at home against the Boston Bruins Saturday night. The Flyers came out slow, and lacked energy and leadership on the ice, the same leadership and energy that Giroux provided on a daily basis.
Giroux's injury was compared to those of Pronger and Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, who has missed more than 50 games in the past two seasons due to concussion symptoms. Many fans believed the Flyers should begin researching trade options to replace Giroux.
However, the Flyers received good news when Giroux returned to the ice Sunday during the Flyers road trip to Denver. He practiced and skated with the team Sunday, but is not expected to play Monday night against the Avalanche.
The Flyers desperately need Giroux in the lineup. If the Flyers continue to play like they did against Boston on Saturday, the Flyers may be in for a rough fall down the Eastern Conference standings. Not only does Giroux bring offensive firepower to the team, but he brings Stanley Cup experience to a young offensive core of players.
His return to the Flyers will hopefully turn things around in Philadelphia, and lead to wins and playoff success for a team with a great amount of promise and potential.