Giroux productive, Panthers win in his first game since trade

Giroux productive, Panthers win in his first game since trade
David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In his first game since being traded from the Flyers, Claude Giroux showed glimpses of why the Florida Panthers went after him. Giroux enjoyed a productive debut, generating two assists while the Panthers beat the Canadiens 4-3.

Giroux debut: immediate results, Panthers win in his debut after trade

It didn’t take long for Giroux to record a point in his Panthers debut, and the two teams started the night fast, in general. Twenty-nine seconds in, Nick Suzuki gave the Habs a lead. Seven seconds later, Giroux recorded a secondary assist on a goal that was mainly about Aleksander Barkov being Aleksander Barkov.

(Robert Hagg, also making his Panthers debut, generated the primary assist.)

In his first game with the Panthers, Claude Giroux spent most of his 5-on-5 time on what could be a terrifying line with Barkov and Carter Verhaeghe. We’ll see if that sticks, but Giroux makes plenty of sense as a winger (and right-handed shot) on that line.

Speaking of right-handed shots, it was interesting to see Giroux line up on the right side of an also-interesting five-forward Florida power play.

Personally, it seemed more sensible to place Giroux on the left in some sort of PP configuration. Perhaps that got consideration from Cats coaches, as he was on the left flank later.

Giroux collected another secondary assist, this time on the power play, on a Sam Reinhart goal (also assisted by Jonathan Huberdeau). Unless Barkov gets that secondary assist instead? Either way, this mainly boiled down to some nifty interplay between Huberdeau and Reinhart.

 

So, maybe the assists weren’t great showcases of what Claude Giroux can bring to Florida. His overall work remains impressive, though.

By the simplest of stats, Giroux accompanied his two assists with four shots on goal, and registered a +2 rating. The deeper you delve, the more promising things get. At 5-on-5, Giroux, Barkov, and Verhaeghe dominated. Check out some of their linemate numbers, via Natural Stat Trick:

Impressive.

How other Panthers debuted

Naturally, it’s not wise to get too high or low after one game, especially against a flawed opponent like Montreal.

Speaking of the Canadiens, Ben Chiarot made his Panthers debut against his former team. Chiarot logged 22:09 time on ice, producing an assist, three SOG, and a +1 rating. Hagg notched his assist in a mere 11:44 TOI, while Giroux’s TOI finished at 17:13.

Ideally, the Panthers may lean less on Chiarot — at least if his underlying numbers largely carry over from Montreal.

Looking forward, this stretch is pretty friendly to Giroux and Chiarot getting comfortable with the Panthers. Going forward, they face the Canadiens again, take on the Sabres twice, and also face the Senators, Devils, and Blackhawks.

The most interesting near-future test takes place on Sunday, as the Panthers take on the Maple Leafs in Toronto. Likely to Giroux’s relief, the Panthers don’t face the Flyers again this season.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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