It was a meeting that lived up to its billing as the fiercest matchup of the first round, though few expected the series to end in six games, let alone with a Flyers victory.
But it was the Flyer son the happy end of the handshakes, and they now await their second round opponent. In their somewhat surprising win, no player was more instrumental in getting them over the Pens, than Claude Giroux.
Giroux had a breakout season for the Philadelphia Flyers, breaking into the ranks of the league’s elite. His 93 points were among the best in the league, and were a career high, despite missing some games with a concussion.
But it’s during these playoffs where we’ve really seen Giroux’s name take off on a national stage.
G finished the six games against Pittsburgh with 14 points, including six goals. Two of those six came on the power play, and another came on the penalty kill.
His play has gone beyond the stats though. He was great defensively and brought the physical game, particularly against Sidney Crosby. The two went toe-to-toe with a fight in that brutal Game 3, but it was Giroux’s hit on Crosby that got the Flyers going in the early part of Game 6.
That hit was just the part of a big Game 6 for Giroux. He opened the scoring with a ridiculous snipe to start off the game, before adding a couple of assists in the 5-1 Flyers’ series clinching victory.
It’s not as if Giroux did anything new in this series. He’s been a standout in all phases of the game all year. Of his 93 points in the regular season, 38 came on the power play, helping the Flyers to rank sixth in the league with the man advantage. He’s also a main contributor out on the penalty kill and finished the regular season with a faceoff percentage over 53 percent.
If there was any doubt that Claude Giroux is one of the top few players in the National Hockey League, he ended that debate with his series against the Penguins, having outplayed both Crosby and Evgeni Malkin for the entire series.
There’s plenty of talent around him on this Flyers team, but Giroux is the unquestioned leader and is capable of leading this team on a very deep run into the postseason. With the way Philly played in Round 1, it’s very possible that you could see Giroux’s name on the Conn Smythe Trophy, but I’d be even less surprised if we see Giroux take home a Hart Trophy within the next couple of seasons.