Commentary

Clutch performers in the East

A team-by-team look at who has really carried every Eastern Conference squad

Originally Published: December 21, 2011
By Neil Greenberg | ESPN Insider
Claude GirouxLen Redkoles/NHLI via Getty ImagesClaude Giroux has carried the Flyers in terms of key points in 2011-12.

As the season continues, a series of surprising early returns has stirred up plenty of NHL conversation. With teams favored to win the Stanley Cup struggling, like the Washington Capitals, and others outpacing expectations, like the Minnesota Wild, there's been plenty of discussion about where to place both the blame and the credit. With the Clutch Performance Indicator, we can get a team-by-team look at exactly who has and hasn't been carrying the weight offensively during the 2011-12 campaign.

As you may recall from the debut of the CPI, this indicator evaluates the role of players in generating goals and the impact of that goal on their team's ability to win the game in which it is scored. For a more detailed explanation, you can revisit the first article.

Over the next two days, we'll go team by team to see who's stepped up and who's not pulling his weight when the pressure is on.

EAST | WEST

We start in the East, where Philadelphia's Claude Giroux is making a very strong case for MVP.

Philadelphia Flyers

Philadelphia owns the best W-L record in the Eastern Conference, but the status of Claude Giroux is iffy due to a concussion. While he's reportedly due to return soon, Sidney Crosby has already shown that simply getting back on the ice doesn't mean the impact is fully behind you. Giroux is the Flyers' leader in CPI, which shows he has contributed more to the team's wins than any other skater offensively. Giroux was leading the Art Ross Trophy race before he was sidelined, so it is up to the 39-year-old Jaromir Jagr and Scott Hartnell, who's been on a near point-per-game pace this season, to carry the offensive load if Philadelphia is going to keep its winning ways should Giroux return at less than 100 percent.

Boston Bruins

Neil Greenberg is ESPN Insider's NHL analytics expert. His columns have appeared on the Washington Post website, and he is a regular guest on Sirius XM NHL Radio.