An admission at the outset of this belated Five Thoughts piece: I was initially skeptical of the news that the Ottawa Senators could be in the mix for Claude Giroux. It wasn’t really anything to do with Giroux per se, who I’ve always admired as a player, it was more to do with his perceived fit on the team at this stage of his career. How would a 34 year-old, who would surely command a fairly sizable contract, be of use to a young team just at the beginning of their competitive window? And back to him being 34: how much did he have left in the tank? Would the Sens be stuck paying for past exploits?
For the five months that Giroux’s been with the Sens’ organization, he’s provided definitive answers to the first two questions with his excellent play. Without his enormous contribution to date, this team wouldn’t even be dreaming of post-season contention. Add in the fact that the contract he did eventually sign was not nearly so onerous as I’d expected, and you couldn’t describe his time in the nation’s capital as anything but a resounding success so far.
In the spirit of celebrating successes, as we close out 2022, I’ve gathered what I believe to be the best five moments of Giroux’s time in Ottawa so far. Considering how little time he’s been on the team, this was a difficult task; there were tough omissions! Let me know if I missed any in the comments.
Home Opener Goal
The atmosphere at the Sens’ home opener was absolutely electric, the loudest the building had been in years. Let it never be said that Giroux doesn’t have the flair for the dramatic because the roar when he potted his goal just over a minute into the first period had the whole Canadian Tire Centre shaking:
When I say his time in Ottawa has been a complete success, this is what I mean: right from the start, it’s been nothing but good times. Incredible.
Breakaway Slapshot vs. San Jose Sharks
Speaking of electric atmospheres, Giroux put the exclamation mark on one of the most remarkable sequences in recent memory with this absolute hammer of a slapshot on a breakaway against the Sharks:
The series of events that led to Giroux scoring this goal, including the Sens killing a 4-on-3 while Travis Hamonic was without a stick, absolutely beggars belief and had the crowd in the absolute tizzy that you hear at the start of the above clip. The fact that Giroux’s stated reason for taking a slapshot from 25 feet on a breakaway, the kind of thing that might get you laughed at in a beer league game, was that he told Shane Pinto he would score on a breakaway, merely adds to the legend. The man oozes cool.
Diving Assist vs. Washington Capitals
Maybe this is a bit of recency bias creeping in, but the play that Giroux made on Thursday night against the Capitals to set up Tim Stützle is the kind of thing that only the very best players in the world are capable of:
It’s also a goal that’s so typical of Giroux as a player: he’s positionally sound, and yet processing enough savvy and flair to go for a full extension dive to knock down a breakout pass. On top of that, he has the presence of mind, and offensive awareness, to make an inch perfect pass to a streaking Stützle once he gains control of the puck. It’s the total package!
Overtime Winner vs. Los Angeles Kings
One of the most obvious beneficiaries of playing with Giroux this year has been Stützle. By now it’s become clear that the two have a special chemistry, and this incredible sequence is exhibit A:
There’s a lot of things that almost go wrong in the five seconds before Giroux scores, including two near turnovers, but everything stays on the rails just long enough for the Orleans native to find himself completely alone against Jonathan Quick. The move that Giroux puts on Quick, who gets so turned around he essentially falls over, is more than worthy of the sublime pass Stützle saucered to him to create the chance in the first place.
Being a Big Nerd About Ottawa
“It’s a big city, but it’s a small city”, never have truer words been spoken about Ottawa. For years, the Sens have leaned heavily on the “hometown kid” angle when it came to marketing, but to hear Giroux talk about living in the city is to really get the feeling that being at home means a lot to the guy. Most of the time the types of videos I’ve embedded below end up feeling a bit forced, or awkward, but Giroux’s sincerity and earnestness shines through. The man is a big ol’ nerd about our city and that’s great!