Claude Giroux waited until game No. 82 of his tenth NHL season to deliver his first career hat trick, and it came at the perfect time for Philadelphia who, finally, clinched a playoff spot after putting the boots to Rangers at home on Saturday.
The Flyers captain netted three tallies on three shots and, in the process of helping the Flyers secure a playoff berth, became the sixth player in franchise history — and first since Eric Lindros 22 seasons ago — to hit the 100-point plateau. Giroux, who dressed in all 82 games, finishes the regular season with career-highs in goals (34), assists (67), shooting percentage (17.6) and did so while starting in the offensive zone just 45 percent of the time—the lowest oZS% of his ten seasons.
Though he’s part of a group consisting of around 700 guys making their case for MVP this season, It’s pretty tough not to put Giroux’s name right up there as a top 2-3 favourite to bring home the Hart Trophy in June.
The 30-year-old could finish the campaign as the league leader in assists and in the top five in points, but it’s what Giroux has done down the stretch while the Flyers have been in a two-month long dogfight for a playoff spot that vaults him up the list MVP conversation.
Giroux posted 17 goals and 39 points over the last 27 games of the regular season and—with the team needing every single point it could get in order to fend off the surging Florida Panthers—was even more lethal during the Flyers’ final ten contests. The Hearst, Ontario product notched 18 points over those 10 games while helping Philly earn at least a point in all but one.
If ‘putting the team on your back and playing the best hockey of your career when your team desperately needs every point it can get just to sneak into the last playoff spot in the conference’ is amongst your most important performance criteria for the Hart Trophy, than you may be a Giroux-for-MVP truther — and that’s okay.