The Winter Olympics are fast approaching and hockey fans everywhere are excited to see their favorite players represent their home countries on the biggest stage.
For Philadelphia Flyers fans, they will see five players head to Sochi to represent five separate nations. Defenseman Andrej Meszaros (Slovakia), winger Michael Raffl (Austria), defenseman Mark Streit (Switzerland), defenseman Kimmo Timonen (Finland), and winger Jakub Voracek (Czech Republic) will all compete in the 2014 winter games.
One name obviously missing from that list is Flyers star forward Claude Giroux.
According to NHL.com, Giroux is currently tied for 20th in total points in the NHL, with 41. That’s a remarkable position for the Flyers captain seeing as he failed to score a goal through the first 15 games of the regular season.
Since then, he has emerged as one of the top centers in the league, and is making a case for one of the best players in the world.
For hockey fans, Giroux is becoming as recognizable a name as Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin and Steven Stamkos. According to Hockey-Reference.com, over the past three seasons combined, Giroux ranks second in total scoring among Canadian born players, trailing only John Tavares by two points. However, at the time Team Canada was announced, he ranked first.
So naturally, Flyers fans that wanted to see their team captain represent the City of Brotherly Love were outraged that he was left off the team.
However, this is a blessing in disguise for Philadelphia. As displeased and shocked as Flyers nation is, they’ll be able to rest their heads easy if they think about a few positive outcomes of the decision.
First, Giroux has publicly stated he is disappointed about the snub, but understands the amount of Canadian talent there is, and knows not everyone can be selected.
Giroux wanted a spot on that team, and not achieving that goal leaves a very large chip on his shoulder. And a Giroux with something to prove is a Giroux Flyers fans like watching very much.
Fans can expect to see Giroux play with a heightened level of intensity that will certainly produce fireworks. Several hours after the announcement, the Flyers played the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center. According to CSNPhilly.com Flyers insider, Tim Panaccio, Linemate Jakub Voracek said Giroux looked like a man possessed that game.
Second, the Flyers are in a playoff race. They currently sit at fourth in the Metropolitan Division heading into Buffalo tonight. A win would put them back into second place.
Every point is crucial at this point in the season. When your team leader plays inspired hockey, it lifts the play of everyone else around him.
The Flyers have been hot as of late, but they have lost their last two games. Fans certainly don’t want to see the team fall back into another slump. The offense needs to click because, when it does, it becomes one of the most dangerous offenses in hockey.
Giroux will keep his focus on the Flyers, but he won’t forget where he should be when the NHL takes its Olympic break on Feb. 9.
Giroux has his entire team to support him, but they also look to him for leadership. If Claude and company can band together and continue their tremendous play as of late, look for this team to make a deep run in the playoffs on the shoulders of their beloved captain.
HartnellDown Tracker: Scott currently sits at 161 HartnellDowns for the season.