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Giroux Shows A Lot of Hart


Guest Irishjim
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per Rob Simpson

It wasn’t unexpected: Many of us suggested 23-year-old Claude Giroux would breakout to another level this season and start to become a household name in the NHL. We didn’t necessarily predict he’d be in the Hart Trophy conversation a quarter of the way through the season.

“It’s one thing to be a top player on your team, but when you start talking about being a top player in the League, I think this year he has really spread his wings,” said his head coach Peter Laviolette after Friday’s win against Montreal.

“It goes back to the playoffs two years ago; he came out and really started to show what he’s capable of on the ice. Last year he was consistently one of our top forwards, and now he’s consistently one of the top forwards in the game.”

Giroux added goals twelve and thirteen on the season against the Habs to go with his 16 assists. Both of them came from being in the right place at the right time. Thirteen minutes into the second period he tied the game at 1-1 by banking a shot off Carey Price from parallel to the goal line after the puck had caromed off the end boards below the right wing circle.

The one-time reaction caught the Montreal netminder by surprise and bounced in off his elbow. His insurance goal six minutes later, to make the score 3-1, the eventual final, was from almost a similar angle, but from the opposite side of the net.

“I think its all luck, that kind of game where the puck ends up on your stick and you shoot and it goes in,” Giroux said postgame.

Nice try Claude, the humility is appreciated. The goals came from knowing exactly where to be on the ice.

“His hockey sense is excellent, but this is a talented guy that I’m talking about, so there’s a lot of skill there,” added Laviolette. “One of his greatest attributes is his competitiveness. Every inch of ice he fights for, you can just see it, it’s visible. Sometimes somebody can be a great player, and you’re not sure how they do it. For me with Claude, you can visibly see it on the ice, how much he wants it, how hard he works for it.”

Giroux admitted to reporters he’s motivated by “being mean”.

“You want to hit more, you’re more on the puck, and you’re winning more battles,” he said, “I think anybody plays better when they’re more focused and you just want it more.”

Being “mean” helps over an 82 game schedule. If Giroux can stay angry, he may just end up a Hart Trophy finalist, and with two less alpha males in the Philly forward ranks, now minus Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, its Claude’s offense to lead.

n 2008-09 he finished a half-season with 27 points in 42 games, his first full season with 47, and last season with 76. This year he’s been playing with future Hall-of-Famer Jaromir Jagr, whose now missed three games with a groin injury. Giroux hasn’t missed a beat.

“I think he’s a tremendous player, I think he keeps getting better year after year; now he’s become obviously a leader on this team,” stated Canadiens coach Jacques Martin after the loss.

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Hey all--I did say "FUTURE"--like you I do not want to rush things. I'm just saying he certainly is the kind of player that leads by example.

@Vanflyer--I did not know that he was wearing the "A" in the absence of Pronger--thanks for the update.

Hope you all had a great Thankgiving!

PP

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