Statistically, there’s not much Claude Giroux hasn’t done at this point of his career.
The Flyers' captain recently reached the 400-assist plateau, a table of four that includes Giroux, Bob Clarke, Brian Propp and Bill Barber in franchise history.
“Yeah, that’s fun,” Giroux said. “I never really thought that I was at that number. In the past, I’ve played with a lot of guys who can score goals, so it makes it a lot easier.”
However, through the first eight games of this season, Giroux is the guy who’s the goal scorer and he’s on a Tim Kerr-like projection. The captain has five goals in the Flyers' first eight games. If “G” continues his torrid pace, he’ll finish the season with 51 goals, which would be a 180-degree deviation from his typical production of points. It’s the quickest start Giroux has had in the goal-scoring department since 2011-12 when he ripped home 11 goals in the first 17 games of the season.
But let’s slow down the spinning red goal light for a moment. Giroux isn’t reaching 50 goals. He knows that, and even 40 goals would be an extreme stretch for someone who’s more of a playmaker than a shoot-first sniper. But his first ever 30-goal season? That’s definitely plausible for a player of Giroux’s caliber.
“Yeah, obviously it would be fun to have that,” Giroux said. “There’s a lot of hockey left to play. It’s only eight games. I’m not really thinking of that right now, but if it happens, that’s pretty cool.”
“Of course, he’s got it in him,” linemate Jake Voracek said of Giroux possibly scoring 30 goals. “When you’re a good player like that, it’s gonna happen.”
Giroux has knocked on the door of 30 goals a couple of times in his career, having scored 28 in 2011-12 and again two years later in 2013-14. But if you think he has more of a shooter’s mentality playing left wing, it’s actually quite the opposite — Giroux is shooting less, averaging just two shots on net per game. The number that sticks out so far is an eye-popping 29.4 shooting percentage — another number that won’t continue to hold up — for a career 10.4 percent shooter.
“I don’t think we’re shooting just to shoot the puck. I think we’re doing a good job of keeping the puck, making plays and finding late guys,” Giroux said. “When that happens, obviously, your shots aren’t going to go that high, but the quality of chances are going to go higher.”
Thirty is a magical number for almost any NHL player not named Ovechkin or Crosby. For Wayne Simmonds, he's circled that number, annually coming within a goal or two in three straight non-lockout seasons before finally connecting for 32 in 2015-16.
Even Voracek wouldn’t mind reaching the big 3-0.
“I think I have it in me, too,” he said. “I scored 22 goals during the lockout season, so I probably would have hit 30 that year. It depends on how you start the year, when you get hot, how hot you get.”
With four goals in his last four games, Giroux is red-hot, much like his finely-manicured beard. And if superstition counts for anything, he won’t shave it anytime soon.