Philadelphia Flyers’ Captain Claude Giroux Better Than Pittsburgh Penguins’ Sidney Crosby This Year

Crosby Giroux

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

If you ever find yourself around Pattison Ave. in Philadelphia, go up to a Philly sports fan and ask them which athlete the city hates the most. It could be at a Philadelphia Eagles game. I don’t care. I guarantee you that the name coming out of their mouth will be Sidney Crosby. No questions asked, they’re going to say the Pittsburgh Penguins captain. The number of reasons you’ll get as to why will seem endless. Crosby has done his fair share to earn the reputation, but quite frankly, it’s another story for another time.

The infamous debate on who the better player is, Crosby or the Philadelphia FlyersClaude Giroux, is one that has been going on for quite a few seasons. If you ask me, it’s a pretty tired discussion. Fans will be loyal and stick to their guy. That’s just the way it is and there’s no changing that. It brings up another good topic, though. Who’s been the better captain this season?

Now before I move on, let me just clarify that in no way, shape or form is this being brought up to debate on who the better player is. So set those angry thoughts aside. It’s solely based on the statistical facts that prove Giroux is a better captain than Crosby is this season, not an overall player. Although, Giroux has been a better overall player than Crosby over the past few months, but again, another story for another time. Anyway, here we go.

I don’t know about you, but to me, nothing speaks volumes more about a captain than his clutch play. Giroux and Crosby have both tallied five game-winners this season. Both have also netted a goal in overtime. So where’s the argument you ask? Well, it’s in the competition of each player. Both players have scored against 18 different teams this season. Again, another even stat. However, if you break down the numbers, Giroux has faced harder competition and performed better. Of the 18 teams Crosby scored against, the average number of shots given up per game by them is 30.4. Giroux’s competition has given up 29.8 shots per game. Giroux has also scored against slightly better goaltending than Crosby has. His opponents’ goals against average is 2.67. Crosby’s is 2.70. Microscopic differences, but the numbers don’t lie.

A captain is supposed to lead their team as well, yes? Well, part of that leading is winning when it matters most. Sorry Pittsburgh fans, but Giroux has your boy beat there as well. Going into the Olympic break, Pittsburgh was the top team in the Eastern Conference with 83 points. Philly sat all the way back at seventh with 66 points. Since resuming play, though, Philly has gone 8-2-1 to earn 17 points. Pittsburgh has gone 6-5-2 to earn only 14 points. Currently, Pittsburgh has fallen back to second place with 97 points while the Flyers have climbed up to fifth with 83 points.

It’s not just Flyers fans noticing the difference. Philadelphia overtook the Penguins in‘s NHL power rankings this week. Philly climbed to five while Pittsburgh fell back to ninth. According to‘s JJ Regan, he’s not intimidated by the current play of Pittsburgh either saying, “I’d rather meet the Penguins in the playoffs right now than the Flyers.”

Lastly, it’s important to look at the supporting casts of each player. Crosby is paired up with Chris Kunitz and Lee Stempniak on Pittsburgh’s top line. Kunitz and Stempniak have combined for 42 goals. Scott Hartnell and Jakub Voracek, who are paired up with Giroux, have only combined for 38 goals. The power play is no different. Crosby’s power play help combines for 88 goals and 139 assists. Giroux’s has combined for only 66 goals and 114 assists. The fact that Giroux’s leadership is climbing while Crosby’s is dropping despite having less talent speaks wonders about his play as a captain.

You can bicker back and forth all you want, but Giroux’s character is speaking louder than Crosby’s. Philly owns the season series 3-1. The two teams will meet for one last regular season showdown on Apr. 12 before the playoffs begin.

Steven Smith is a Philadelphia Flyers writer for  Follow him Twitter and “like” him on Facebook.

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  • JayMacks

    The only statistic that matters in this conversation is that Crosby is a vagina, has always been a vagina, and will always be a vagina. He is a very excellent vagina, but nonetheless, he is a vagina.

    • Jason Byrnes

      Yeah vaginas usually take pucks to the teeth then come back with a wired jaw only a few weeks later. They also play with broken feet, broken bones and hide it from the media because they don’t wanna be too much “vagina-ey”

      They usually play concussed and still play down low no matter what player is d’ing them up. They also lead the league in scoring even when on an injury list, score game winning gold medal goals and make everyone around them 100 times better. Go look at Ryan Malone if you think Crosby doesn’t elevate normal players into superstars. Pascal Dupuis is another good example.

      Go back to Booing AJ Burnett Out of town Philly fans. Do what you do best!

    • Opinynated

      Sounds like you have a vagina fixation, pal. Seems hard for you to get anything else out of your mouth …. oh … I see. Sorry. Carry on.

  • Guest

    LOL good article.. Your “stats” are pretty hilarious.. Here’s a real stat.. Crosby’s worst season is better than Giroux’s best season.. Including this season where he has 20 more points than Giroux…

    • Steven

      Obviously you didn’t understand the article, bud. It was about who the better captain was. Not player. Just make sure you read things carefully next time before you go blowing your top. Thanks for the read.

  • Rj

    HAHAHAHA this is probably the most autistic thing I have ever read. If you’re trying to say Giroux is a better captain, all that is needed in response is that Crosby is the captain of Team canada THAT GIROUX DIDNT EVEN MAKE. LOLOL. Anyways, it’s obvious he’s the best player in the world, and the best since Mario. Fan or not you can’t deny that because he wins point races by 20 points annually, and leads his team to a solid playoff spot each season. How about we write about things we know- and not a biased opinion. Pathetic

    • Steven

      How old are you, dude? When’s the last time the Flyers played team canada? You’re argument is completely irrelevant. You wouldn’t happen to be a Penguins fan, would ya?

      • Opinynated

        How old are you, is probably the more interesting question.

        It’s Canada (we capitalize countries still, I believe).

        It would be “Your argument is …” and not “You’re argument is…”. One is used as the possessive case of “you” in the form of an attributive adjective and the other is the contraction of “you” and “are”.

        His argument, based on everything I understand about communication and discourse, is not remotely irrelevant. That it is to you says a great deal about your credibility as a journalist/writer/blogger.

        • Jim

          The fact that you’re criticizing somebody for their grammar in the comment section really shows your lack of maturity.

          • Opinynated

            The writer replied to the responder with what can be best described as an attempt at a withering dismissal based on age the intent of which was to discredit the responder’s opinion. Not with facts or counter arguments, but with an ironically immature response which falls within the rubric of ad hominen.

            That sort of bugged me. I dislike bullies.

            So, I decided to write my own withering dismissal. As an example of the notion that there is “always a bigger bully”.

            Only a fool would dismiss criticism that made them better. It can never make you worse to understand spelling and grammar if you are a writer.

            I’ll leave you to unravel which is sarcasm, which is irony and which is just plain old good advice.

          • Jim

            Relax fool.

  • Paul

    Those stats don’t prove anything especially who the better CAPTAIN is. All your stats show is that Crosby is a better hockey player than Giroux. The only people who will know who the better captain is are those who have played with both of them.
    I am also shocked that you failed to leave out the fact that the Penguins have the most man games lost this year and Crosby has led/captained his team to 1st in the division.

    • Steven

      The fact that you see those stats as Crosby being a better “player” than Giroux tells me you don’t get it at all, my friend. You do realize that all those stats weigh in the favor of Giroux as well, right? None of those benefit Crosby at all. Pitt should be fighting and climbing for the number one spot, but instead, they’re falling back. Giroux has helped the Flyers climb up two spots. The Flyers are achieving their goals while the Penguins are not. See the bigger picture, dude. Look your probably a Penguins fan, and that’s cool, but you’re not gonna win this one. And men down? Where’s Downie been the last week? Where was Rinaldo for almost three weeks? Please dude, the Penguins aren’t the only ones who suffered from injury. Nice try, but like all the other arguments on here, yours is invalid. Thanks for the read.

      • Opinynated

        I would be interested in understanding what you consider a “leader”.

        Giroux’ play has certainly elevated the Flyers. He is an elite player and anyone who says he is not, has some reality problems. But I fail to understand how your arguments prove his leadership.

        As an example, in your reply here you say: “Pitt should be fighting and climbing for the number one spot, but instead, they’re falling back. Giroux has helped the Flyers climb up two spots. The Flyers are achieving their goals while the Penguins are not.”

        Was it not Crosby who led the Pens to their leading position in their division? Did the Flyers not have to gain two spots because Giroux played so badly in the beginning of the season? Is first not better than third? It is more likely the Pens are closer to their goal than the Flyers to theirs. So that’s actually a win for Crosby on that particular point. Or am I wrong? Please enlighten me if I am.

        Further, you then say: “And men down? Where’s Downie been the last week? Where was Rinaldo for almost three weeks?”

        Are you suggesting that Downie and Rinaldo in any way equal the combined loss of Paul Martin, Kris Letang, Pascal Dupuis and Evgeni Malkin – and the significant game loss of Brooks Orpik, James Neal and Rob Scuderi? Surely not. Because that would be truly ridiculous.

        So, Crosby has gotten his team closer to their goal and done so with fewer of his team around him. Unless I am missing something. If I am, I would sincerely like to know what.

        All that said, we still don’t know who is a better “leader” because that involves qualities and actions which we cannot know about or see. We can estimate their relative contributions as players, we can count their statistics, but we can’t understand how their players feel about them or how much motivation their players get from them – which is where the essence of leadership lies.

        We can only really say which player provides the best appearance of leadership and I would say that Crosby and Giroux both provide about the same level. Both have said and done ill advised things and acted in ways that are less than reproachable – but they have also both grown up a lot over the past few years. They would probably find this argument highly entertaining.

  • Micca Theobald

    I think Crosby is spending too much time with his hot girlfriend

  • Paul

    Hahaha I don’t think you understand the game of hockey Steven. I love the comparison of the Flyers losing Downie and Rinaldo to the Penguins losing Malkin, Letang, Martin, Vokoun, Bennett. Oh no, the Flyers lost a couple goons. I am sure the FLyers are actually better because of that. I also enjoy the fact you brought up Lee Stempniak’s numbers. He has played 10ish games with Crosby. Why not list the rest of his RW’s instead. Like Tanner Glass, or Brian Gibbons. Maybe the shots stat and GAA stat you list are like this because Crosby creates more shots for his team and has set up more goals for his team. Maybe THAT’S why the numbers are like that. Doubt you thought of that. How about this…the great leader Claude Giroux didn;t make it on Team Canada. If he were such an amazing leader and a better one that Crosby, shouldn’t he have been wearing the C for the team? I mean, when he is on the ice, his team gets less shots and scores less that Crosby. Doesn’t that mean he is a better leader?

  • Opinynated

    There is no way to make a quantitative argument about who is the better captain from statistical evidence.

    The one I will concede is the “clutch” issue. Yes, Giroux does seem more clutch.

    But … Crosby was selected to be the Captain of perhaps the best hockey team, Olympic or otherwise, ever assembled. We’re talking record and accomplishment here, not the individual star power of the team members – although with that said, some day Toews, Getzlaf, Perry, Bergeron and Crosby are going to read like Gretzky, Lemieux and Messier in terms of *relative importance* in the pantheon of hockey greats. So, one presumes his leadership creds are safe.

    That all said, Giroux is a great player (I am a Pens fan) and should have been on the team.

    I suspect he was not because of the crazy hatred Crosby and Giroux share. If only one could be on the team, it was a no brainer it would be Crosby.

    So – maybe we should start with “Giroux shoots self in foot by picking the wrong guy to publicy hate on”.

    I suspect this should figure into the argument about Giroux’ leadership skills. ANd not in a good way.

    • Steven

      Leave, the Olympic thing out of it. They are two COMPLETELY different teams. However, I do thank you. Finally you see the point I was trying to make in the article. A Pens fan nonetheless, haha. You bring up a good point though, man. Wasn’t it Crosby who shoved Voracek’s glove away two Aprils ago? Wasn’t it Crosby who publicly said he doesn’t like anyone on our team? Where’s the leadership there, sir? If anything, Crosby instigated. Giroux did what any other leader would do. He made a statement. It’s an irrelevant argument to the point of the article, but since you brought it up…Thanks though for the read, man! Nice to see somebody got it.

      • Opinynated

        Seriously? Your reply to a reasonable reply is to employ sophomoric sarcasm? And you write professionally?

        Giroux is more clutch. Crosby is a better player. I do not believe you made a case for either the presence of it in Giroux or the lack of it in Crosby in your article.

        The only people qualified to make a quantitative statement on a person’s leadership are the people he leads and the management that is in charge of those two entities.

        As an aside, the employment of ridiculous levels of politeness, punctuated by “sir” just makes you look foolish.

        • Jim

          Ive never seen someone get offended when being spoken to as sir. You’re a complete fool judging somebodys tone through a text conversation. How about you relax and have a beer, you seem stressed.

          • Opinynated

            Oh please. If one cannot judge someone’s tone through their writing then they ought not to be publishing writing. It is called “voice”. If you are too obtuse, young or poorly educated not to recognize sarcasm when you read it then it is your loss.

            Calling me a fool for objecting to the use of “sir” when it is such a tired trope on comment boards, nearly universally employed in the exact manner the writer used, is … well, it’s rather foolish.

            That’s called an irony. Look it up.

          • Jim

            Everyone perceives voice differently, you reacted foolishly because you were unable to perceive what he actually meant.

  • B.M.

    While I agree that over the past couple months Giroux has been tearing it up and has been the better player. You cannot argue that Crosby has been the more consistent player this year and was a better player than Giroux through most of the season. That is besides the point the argument is over who the better captain is. While I think this is very hard to judge, even with the numbers you have (kudos by the way for getting all that info). A lot of the argument seems to be how the Flyers have moved up in the standings and how they have played so well as of late. That still does not prove Giroux is the better captain. That simply proves that the Flyers and Giroux sucked at the beginning of the season and have torn it up as of late to climb the standings. The Penguins have had their troubles since the Olympic break but they have been putting up wins and points consistently all season. This is the reason they are still pretty far ahead in the division despite their struggles. I am not saying that Crosby is a better captain than Giroux. I feel like that is very hard to determine and I am in no position to make that decision. However, you can’t say that Giroux is the better captain simply because they have played better than the Penguins the past couple months. With that logic you would have to say that Crosby was the better captain in the months prior to that. I know you will not see it that way but just because Philly is playing better now does not erase the fact that they were bad at the beginning of the year. The same with Pittsburgh, just because they are playing bad now does not diminish the fact that they have won consistently all year (minus this stretch of course). I hope you understand what I am trying to say, I always enjoy good hockey talk whether we agree or disagree.

    • Steven

      I hear what your’e saying, man! Valid points all around! Can’t argue with somebody who isn’t giving me terrible excuses to prove the article otherwise. Thanks for the read, man!

  • BobZ

    Steven, have you ever watched a hockey game that didn’t involve the Flyers? If I want to hear nonsense like this, I’ll talk to some random guys at a bar over lunch. They have more insight and common sense than you show here. As a “writer” for the Flyers, you should be writing articles that fans of other teams want to read… not just for those of us here in Philly. Give some insight as to why the Flyers have been hot… who’s in a slump… who’s getting hot that others should pick up in their fantasy hockey league. Instead… it’s.. “We rule… and Crosby is a crybaby.” You are an example of why fans everywhere hate the fans here — you can’t judge talent through your bright orange glasses.

    How can you *rationally* compare the leadership traits of a man who has never led his team to a cup final to one that has led his team to 2, won one cup, and was *chosen* by the greatest hockey minds in the world (they’re from Canada after all, eh?) to captain an all-star team that included a player who led his team to 2 cup wins.

    Yes, Claude got ripped off and should have been on that team… but still, your view of the world is leaning too orange. If you had a discussion of Toews vs Crosby leadership skills, now that’s interesting.

    I’m not sure what is more preposterous — the “leadership statistics” you pose here… the Wayne Simmons the most complete player in the NHL… (the whole NHL?… not just the Flyers… but the whole NHL!)… or the Steve Mason is the best goalie in the division. Did you run your “stats” against Ovechkin? I’ll bet he scored more clutch goals… so I contend that he’s a better captain even with his -36 ranking, based upon your ridiculous ranking criteria. Selectively pulling stats and ignoring others (Olympics, eh?) is so sophomoric, I realize I’m wasting my time even typing here.

    Credibility. You have none when you keep writing articles like this. If you ever want to move out of your mom’s basement and actually make money writing, you have a lot to learn.

    And oh yeah, thanks for the read of this comment, sir.

    • Opinynated

      Your last sentence made me chuckle. Thanks :)