Claude Giroux’s move to the wing this season was a response.
Giroux’s production had been tumbling out of the realm of elite point producers over the past two seasons and an effort needed to be made to try and restart G’s engines.
The moved seems asinine back in training camp, even with Giroux’s downward trend. Giroux had carved out quite the nice niche as a top centerman in the NHL as a point-per-game player who could play at both ends of the ice and win a pile of faceoffs.
So moving that guy to the wing would mean tearing a big hole down the middle in Philadelphia, even with Nolan Patrick, the second-overall pick this past summer, likely to fill it.
The suffering potential was huge, at least from the outside looking in.
The move, however, may be head coach Dave Hakstol’s best piece of genius thus far, and not just because Giroux has rekindled the form he exhibited a few years ago, but because of what he’s been able to do to help out Sean Couturier and the Flyers’ fearsome top line as a whole.
Giroux’s resurgence as a top player and his seamless adaptation to his new digs on the left side with Couturier has done wonders for the latter.
Couturier scored his 16th goal of the season on Wednesday in a 4-3 win for the Flyers over the Detroit Red Wings.
Couturier’s wingman had three assists, including on Couturier’s game-winning goal. Seeing the pair beside each other on the scoresheet has become a common occurrence in Philadelphia.
Claude Giroux has assisted on 12 of Couturier’s 16 goals this season and Couturier is shooting at 15.2 percent, 5.1 percent higher than his career average. Perhaps this boils down to Giroux finding his linemate in better shooting spots on the ice.
Couturier is certainly shooting more, with 105 shots already through 34 games. He had 165 in 82 games back during the 2013-14 season.
Coots’ 16 goals are already a career-high, one more than the 15 he set during the 2014-15 season. At this point, Couturier would simply shatter his old production records. Sitting on 31 points in 34 games, Couturier only needs eight to tie his previous career high.
That seems exceedingly plausible at this point. As does Giroux remaining a point-per-game player again. He’s already on 39 points in 34 games and is 12th in NHL scoring heading into Thursday night slate of action.
The Flyers have now won seven of their past eight games after their shocking 10-game losing streak prior to their current heater.
Perhaps the chemistry between center and winger could propel the Flyers back into the playoff picture after all.
Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck