I miss hockey. I know it can be found all around me, but I miss it in its most elite form, embraced by the casual independent and celebrated on televisions and in various media formats across the globe. Instead, the hockey as I know it is being played elsewhere around the world in miniscule bits, with no one to enjoy it but the 5,000 to 7,000 people that can fit into the arenas and the other serious few who are brave enough to seek it elsewhere, quality of the stream and play be damned.
I miss hockey as it is played by the Philadelphia Flyers, as it was played in the National Hockey League and broadcast in crystal-clear HD for my flat screen to digest. And of all the things that encompass all I miss about the Orange and Black, I realized after watching yet another silky smooth dangle overseas (click for bonus mic’d up coverage) the thing I so obviously miss most is my daily dose of Claude Giroux.
So how should one cure an incurable urge? With a video diary highlighting the TWENTY FOUR YEAR OLD human highlight machine.
Let’s just get this out of the way right now. When it comes to Claude Giroux, the be-all, end-all, must-see clip is this shootout goal versus the Leafs. How do you know the move was THAT legit? Just listen to the buzz in the arena after a goal that was supposed to send the raucous Toronto crowd home unhappy. G must have realized that haven’t been treated to a show in a while.
The icing on the cake? Many don’t realize he had done this to the Leafs at home once before. Yes, this is NOT the same clip:
Sticking with the shootout theme, it’s clear how incredibly fluid Giroux’s stickhandling is when he has no defenders to worry about. Here he is early on in his career, already making announcers like Darren Pang tongue-tied with his vicious changes of direction.
One year later, it seems he somehow managed to get quicker. The ability to shift his entire direction on a dime to make the goalies bite is just lethal in a shootout setting with no defenders to worry about.
Shootout, OT breakaway, same difference to a G like G.
Another situation that usually finds goalies helpless is special teams play. Unfortunately for guys like Marc Andre Fleury, they aren’t safe even when their team has the advantage. Giroux’s propensity to anticipate the play combined with the relaxed defensive approach of many opponents while on a power play makes him a nightmare to an unsure last lines of defense throughout the league.
Another shortie. In my opinion, the name of this video says it all (“Claude Giroux Double Front Fake Backhand Topshelf”).
With some timely help from his teammates, Claude Giroux is consistently a threat to score shorthanded. Breakaways might as well be shootouts, and we’ve been over those already.
But Claude can score in other ways than breakaways. Here he is as a rookie (WARNING: Thrashers sighting) showing tremendous patience before finishing the play off with a pretty little deposit inside the right post. Check please.
Check this one out. Not so sexy at first, but upon review there are a couple of things to note. First, check out the where he’s at on the ice – along the boards with a near impossible angle. Next, observe the puck – anything but flat. Lastly, it’s all about the body control and awareness. When he is least expecting the puck to come to him, it finally squirts to his stick. With zero hesitation, the puck is in the back of the net.
It’s not a goal, but check out this deke. I’m pretty sure Jeff Skinner asked G to prom immediately after this happened.
Somehow, Giroux seems to raise his game in the playoffs. Wardrobe malfunction aside (let’s be honest – it didn’t factor in), this is one of my favorite goals of this playoff run. The awareness to beat the defender and deposit the puck near side, top shelf was simply uncanny. Halak carried the Canadiens to the Conference Finals that year, and Giroux made him look like an undersized peewee goalie here. Who goes short side like that in that situation these days?
Same playoff run, different magical tally. Giroux does it all here, and that isn’t an exaggeration. He wins the faceoff, makes the outlet pass into the zone, and then completes the play with one of the most picturesque deflections I can recall in recent memory. It’s one thing to get your stick on a puck, but it’s another to do so with such obvious control of where it ends up.
Here’s some more playoff magic from the following season. Once he gets the puck from Timonen in the neutral zone, there wasn’t much doubt what was going to happen next.
But it’s not all about the goals in the playoffs. This was on display while he worked the corners in the waning moments of the epic 4-game comeback versus Boston in 2010. If Giroux doesn’t control that puck the way he does for so long, who knows if that one Bruins fan would have ever gotten a chance to throw his jersey on the ice after that embarrassing collapse.
There are also some head games involved in the playoffs. G is no slouch to this, practicing his approach in the pregame skate by mocking some Penguins fans that think they’ve befriended the enemy.
Lastly, I leave you with an all-encompassing encouragement for the future. No recent video more perfectly represents Claude Giroux as a player than this 2ish minute span from the past postseason. Facing the face of the league, Giroux showed the world what he was capable of before many people even got to their seats. From that point on, Game 6 was safe.
These videos can only begin to explain my love for #28, but it doesn’t do the subject justice. This lockout needs to end so this long distance affair and subsequent video diary can become a poorly encoded thing of the past.
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