When rumors began to surface that Claude Giroux might be named as the new Philadelphia Flyers captain, the fan opinion was a 50/50 split. Some people, like myself, thought he deserved it based on how well he played last season and his natural leadership talent.
Others bemoaned that they didn’t want him to get “the curse of the C” and end up like Mike Richards. There were some that even thought he wasn’t ready for it yet, insisting that the Flyers allow him to get a few more years under his belt and then give it to him.
Based on the first six games, I think a lot of us are starting to wonder if these people were right. Now let’s understand that this abbreviated season is rough on everyone. The travel for a hockey player is already grueling but these back to back games are showing fans why this could be any team’s Cup this year. The Flyers have had a rough start to the season, but were starting to build up again with two back to back wins, but Sunday’s 5-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning was just devastating.
Now, I’m not placing the blame solely on Giroux. The Flyers were awful on the power play, as they have been lately. When a team gets a 4 minute power play they usually bank on it, but the Flyers did nothing on theirs. Having Michael Leighton, who hasn’t played in the NHL for a long time, also wasn’t that great of a coaching choice, especially when you have Steve Stamkos coming at you. You know, the guy that scored a career best of 60 goals last season, to lead the league in goals.
So clearly the Flyers have a lot of work to do if they want to actually make the playoffs this year, but taking that in mind, Giroux just doesn’t seem to have it together yet. It may be still early, but with only a 48-game season getting the start early is more important than ever. He’s doing okay with his 2 goals and 2 assists, but we need to see more from him this season. Giroux is supposed to be the Flyers’s superstar but he seems to not be living up to what we saw in him last season.
Is that the problem? Is our expectation of him too high? Is the C on his chest putting too much pressure on him?
It could be, but it also could be that the Flyers are falling flat without Jaromir Jagr, and Giroux has been struggling without his linesman Scott Hartnell. Giroux and Hartnell seem to be able to find each other perfectly on the ice. With Hartnell out on injury Giroux needs to find that with one of his other team mates. Giroux is a center so we understand him wanting to break the team out offensively, but not at the cost of sloppy defensive plays that can cost the team goals.
We can only hope that the Flyers refresh themselves for their game against The New York Rangers on Tuesday, and stop cutting defensive corners. The Rangers are another projected top tier team that has been struggling early, so it may be the match up the Flyers need to get their act together.