What More Does Claude Giroux Need to Do to Be in Hart Trophy Convo?

Now Claude Giroux's done it all this season.

Switched positions, dazzled with highlight reel passes, played with a terrible sickness in Arizona.

Until Sunday, the only task remaining for Giroux was scoring a game-winning goal.

An achievement he accomplished in grand fashion during Sunday's 4-3 overtime win over the Bruins.

As he skated in on netminder Anton Khudobin, Giroux appeared to have considered shifting the puck between his legs before bringing the puck to his backhand and lifting a shot into the top left corner of the net. 

"I was just trying to freeze him and I think it froze him just a little bit," Giroux said. "Then it (the puck) kinda flipped on me and I was able to put it in. It was pretty fun."

Khudobin was little more succinct in his assessment.

"Breakaway. Top shelf. Lost the game," Khudobin said. 

Surprisingly, coming into Sunday, Giroux had scored 27 goals but not a single one that would be classified as a game-winner in a season where the evidence continues to mount in his case for the Hart Trophy as the player "judged most valuable to his team."

"Just look at what he's done and he's having a career year," Travis Konecny said. "He's putting up numbers and playing the right way every single night. His plus/minus is up there with anybody in the league and he's a great leader and overall one of the stars in this league."

If you need a defining moment this season, there are several, but why not circle Feb. 6. It was coming off a 2-1 win at Carolina when Giroux pulled reporters aside to publicly criticize his poor play. Following that game, Giroux had just two goals over a 23-game stretch.

Since then, only Edmonton's Connor McDavid has accumulated more points (42) than Giroux's 37. In that same span, the Flyers have racked up 37 points with the fourth best record in the entire NHL behind the Predators, Bruins and Blue Jackets. 

What more of a direct bilateral representation of a player's Hart Trophy value do you need to make than that?

"Clearly, in my mind, he is (a Hart Trophy finalist)," head coach Dave Hakstol said. "It's not just the points. When you talk about that type of award, there's a lot more to it and G does a heck of a lot more for our hockey team than just score points."

However, Giroux wasn't alone. He had some help in the leadership department.

It was Voracek's pass that sprung Giroux free for the breakaway and it was Voracek who calmed the bench and his teammates after Patrice Bergeron scored the game-tying goal with three seconds remaining in regulation.  

"A couple of the older guy on the bench just saying the right things," Hakstol said. "Jake is one of those guys who skated up and down the bench and a couple of calm words and refocused. Jake ends up going out and making a play to help G on the breakaway."

A few weeks ago, Giroux became the longest tenured professional athlete in Philadelphia, and nothing would cement his place in this city than to join Bobby Clarke and Eric Lindros as the franchise's only Hart Trophy recipients.

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