You’d have had to be in a coma to have missed the fact that the Flyers ousted the Pittsburgh Penguins from the NHL playoffs with an impressive showing in Sunday’s Game 6. But, if you blinked during the post-game press conference, you might have missed that Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette called Claude Giroux the best player in the world.
There are certainly plenty of people who aren’t quite ready to agree with Lavs’ sentiment. But, after that six-game series with the Pens, it’s hard to adamantly disagree with the man. He made a point of asking for the first shift in a pivotal Game 6, demolished Sidney Crosby and found the back of the net less than 90 seconds in. He notched 14 points in the series—good for a tie for second-best showing by a Flyer in playoff history. In Game 2, he scored a hat trick and managed to record three assists. After Game 3, Giroux was named to the top of ESPN’s Cross-Sport Power Rankings. Oh, and he took some time out during the series to troll some Pens fans.
In case you hadn’t already noticed, the Alpha Male has arrived.
And this is all on top of everything Giroux accomplished during the regular season. The Flyers traded captain Mike Richards and sharp-shooter Jeff Carter in an effort to reinvent themselves. On a team of new faces, rookies, and an injured captain, Claude Giroux was more than impressive. He earned 93 points in 77 games.
Giroux called out Mike Rupp for mocking Jaromir Jagr with a “Jags salute” after a goal in the Winter Classic (where Giroux also called “shotgun” on fighting Carl Hagelin).
And then there was the dangle. Oh, the beautiful dangle. To think that a slight hesitation can cause a goalie so much embarrassment and inject a fanbase (and Flyers bench) with so much enthusiasm and energy is incredible.
He’s not swiping someone’s glove with his stick and then shying away from a scrap. He’s not distracted by Russian tennis stars, and he’s not crashing frat formals at Old City bars. Claude Giroux is a 24-year-old hockey superstar who, according to Lavs, has earned a place in the “best player in the world argument,” all while winning over even the most marginal sports fans in a town that’s thirsty for a cup.
Giroux is the poster boy for a new-look franchise that is the most exciting and endearing Flyers team we’ve gotten to watch in years. It sometimes makes you wonder, “What if?”