Some have suggested Team Canada’s Olympic snub of Claude Giroux is the real impetus in the meteoric rise of his game since Dec. 11.
Since that date, Giroux is No. 1 in the NHL with 51 points. Since Jan. 4, he has 13 goals and 21 assists for 34 points in 27 games.
That latest point total includes the two he picked up Tuesday night with an assist and game-winning overtime goal to lead the Flyers past the Chicago Blackhawks, 3-2 (see story).
Giroux’s 24th goal brought down defending Stanley Cup champs at the Wells Fargo Center.
“He’s been a tremendous leader as of late,” teammate Matt Read said. “Since the Olympic break he’s the hardest-working guy everywhere you go. He’s the first one here every day and in his mind it’s win, win, win at all cost.
“And any mistakes you make you hear about it on the bench from him. He just wants perfect from everybody, and his game has shown a lot. He’s on the ice, he’s working harder than everybody out there. It’s fun to watch how talented he is. He’s being a true leader right now and that’s what we need in this last push here.”
Giroux's two points moved him past Ron Sutter into 20th place on the Flyers’ all-time scoring list. Giroux now has 115 goals and 247 assists for 362 points in his NHL and Flyers career.
Which makes his game-winner that much better.
“I think it was a fun game to play,” Giroux said. “I’m sure it was a fun game to watch also, but I think we were just enjoying ourselves out there, just playing some hockey. It was rough, we got a hit, we were hitting, and that’s the best part of hockey.”
Scott Hartnell had the two previous goals.
“You could tell he wanted it,” Hartnell said. “He was skating pretty hard. It seems like he finds a way to get his shots through most of the time. He absolutely got off a rocket there.”
Hawks goalie Antti Raanta went down after the puck was already in the net.
“He didn’t even know it went in,” Hartnell said.
The Flyers and Giroux have had so many good games at home this season, it becomes difficult to define the fine thread that separates good from very good.
This much is certain: The Flyers recognized the danger this team presents off transition and made sure not to give Chicago any help in generating offense.
"I think they’re a team that if you do mistakes, they’re going to put it in our net,” Giroux said. “I think we were pretty responsible defensively. Coming into this game, that was the one thing -- we wanted to play good defense. When you play good defense, your offense is going to follow.”
Flyers coach Craig Berube and others say Giroux has become vocal in the dressing room, too.
“I mean he’s really been playing hard, really skating, attacking, he’s leading our team,” Berube said. “I think it starts on the bench, he’s vocal, he’s really into it all the time, does a very good job of keeping everybody going.”