Monday night marked another franchise moment for the Senators. A sold-out home crowd was in attendance to celebrate one last victory, and got a little something extra to ensure they’ll return next season.
Claude Giroux left his impression by scoring three points- including the game-winning goal- to achieve the incredible 1000 point career milestone. Giroux has earned 328 goals and 1001 points through 1099 games played over 16 years. He is the 96th player to eclipse quadruple digits.
Giroux was traded to Florida at the 2022 deadline after spending 15 seasons in Philadelphia. The Gatineau-native opted for a homecoming to Ottawa during the off-season. This was the beginning of a classic hometown story.
It would be impossible to know that Giroux is halfway to forty based on his performance this season. Here are where some of his statistics rank compared to the past.
- 81 Games
- 34 Goals (T-1st)
- 22 5v5 Goals (T-1st)
- 78 Points (5th)
- 56.17 Expected Goals For % (1st)
- 3.36 xGF/60 (1st)
- 15.48 5v5 individual expected goals (1st)
- 52 Takeaways (1st)
- 60.06 5v5 Faceoff Win % (1st)
Giroux has earned among the best numbers of his career. This comes in spite of the fact that he has averaged the twelfth lowest ice-time (18:46) and thirteenth lowest powerplay time (2:45) per game. Although it seems like a burden to play less, managing Giroux’s minutes has aided him. His game thrives because of his ability to take advantage of every opportunity while reserving energy throughout each contest.
Although Giroux’s defensive numbers have regressed in Ottawa- which I discussed here– he is one of just four players (minimum 300 minutes) who own a positive 5v5 goal differential. Giroux has spent more than 400 minutes alongside Brady Tkachuk, Tim Stützle and Alex DeBrincat. None of these players own a positive differential, which speaks to how good Giroux is at making an impact wherever he plays. Each player sees an increase in most metrics when playing with Giroux.
The following chart demonstrates how consistently good Giroux is regardless of his linemates, while most players see a dramatic decrease away from him. He adapts to every situation.
Giroux has been on the ice for 37.58 percent of Ottawa’s 5v5 goals, 46.47 percent of their powerplay goals and 41.79 percent of their total goals this season. The moral of the story is that everyone has benefitted from Giroux’s on-ice abilities.
Nobody expected Giroux to have the on-ice impact that he has. Although an exciting acquistion for the club, it was easy to accept that this was a player past his prime. Giroux’s refined skillset has allowed him to continue producing at an elite rate. It is truly remarkable.
The majority of excitement surrounded Giroux’s off-ice contributions when he was signed. A hometown story is always special.
This acquistion felt like the ultimate step in reconnecting the fanbase to the organization. A previously severe rift felt closer to repairing than ever before. Giroux is a player who fans can relate to. He came to Ottawa with a clear desire to help the franchise reach it’s potential.
That potential surrounds the core. Giroux may not be a part of this long-term core given his age, but he is someone who can leave a monumental imprint on the youth who make-up the club’s future. Giroux immediately recognized this and stated his excitement of working alongside talented young players.
“I looked at all the options. When you look at the Sens it’s a young group that’s very exciting with a lot of talent. I like the character of the team and I feel like I will fit right in.” – Claude Giroux on why he chose Ottawa
Don’t be mistaken, Giroux is a fierce competitor. He spoke to what he sees in the Senators and the fact that he wants to bring a Stanley Cup to the city of Ottawa. This mindset in itself is so influential on a young group who hasn’t even entered their prime yet. Giroux’s competitiveness has always been a lauded feat of his game. He is someone who pushes those around him to be better and settles for nothing less than maximum effort.
Giroux’s desire to win is one thing; his hockey knowledge is another. He has been seen ‘coaching’ from the bench in almost every game this season. This not only includes working with individual players on how they can improve, but also discussing different strategies with the coaching staff.
Giroux, along with Alex DeBrincat, stayed more than 15 minutes after practice to talk with D. J. Smith on January 23rd. The club ranked 26th overall with a record of 20-23-3 to that point. This discussion almost felt like an intervention from Ottawa’s two new stars, though that is just speculation.
Ottawa won their next four games and ranks 11th in the league (19-12-4) since that discussion. Something changed, and it isn’t overly surprising. Giroux’s knowledge of the game is perhaps an even greater addition than his 78 point season. His presence and willingness to speak out have made a big difference on an inexperienced core. This is someone who has been through it all. He isn’t going to stand by when things aren’t working.
The players have really connected with Giroux. This was best seen during and after Monday’s milestone.
“Just having [Giroux] as a teammate and learning from him is really special. We love him.” – Tim Stützle
Every young franchise wants to bring veterans in to lead the way. Very few veterans can do what Claude Giroux has done this season, however. His impact on the organization, players and city is almost unheard of. Every facet of this acquistion has benefitted the Senators, and they have at least two more years to relish it.