Since winning their 10th game in a row on Dec. 14 the Philadelphia Flyers have hit a pretty massive slump in the two months that have followed.
They are just 7-12-4 in the 23 games that have followed, and recently have been done in a by slumping offense that has managed just 13 goals over its past 10 games. They enter play on Saturday one point out of the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference behind the Boston Bruins.
At the center of those recent struggles offensively has been Claude Giroux, who is currently going through a lengthy goal scoring slump that has seen him score just three goals in his past 26 games.
On Friday, he said that he has to be better.
“The bottom line is, the team’s got to be better. I’ve got to be better,” Giroux said, via Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer. “Personally, I have to be better. I’ve got to play up to my standards and, right now, it’s not the case. It’s frustrating. You want to give everything you can to help the team, and that’s not the case right now.”
Like all great players Giroux has gone through extended goal droughts before and always bounced back. Remember he opened the 2013-14 season without scoring a single goal in 14 games and still finished the season with 28 goals and 86 total points in 82 games. So it’s not like the slump itself is something that should be overly concerning. It happens.
But What might be a problem for Giroux and the Flyers is him playing to the standard he has set for himself in the past, because as much as he and the Flyers would like to see that level of production again, he is simply not a 24-or 25-year-old forward anymore.
His career is following the aging curve (a point per game average that has dropped a little in each of the past three years) you would expect to see for a scorer that just turned 29 a few weeks ago. At a 0.75 points per game entering Saturday he is on pace for 61 points this season, which would be his lowest total since the 2009-10 season. Still top-line production in the NHL, but not the same level we saw from Giroux when he was in his prime.
That is what the lesson here should be: Not necessarily that he is slumping, but what the expectation and new standard for him should be going forward. As he gets closer to age 30 (and beyond) his overall production is going to drop. He is still going to have stretches where he catches fire and scores in bunches and can carry the offense, but there are going to be more stretches like we have seen lately where the scoring dries up. It’s not an excuse, it’s just the reality that comes with being an NHL player.