Flyers captain Giroux confident he can rebound

Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux didn't have much success against the New York Rangers in...

Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux didn't have much success against the New York Rangers in Game 1 on Thursday. (Reuters)

KEN WIEBE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:27 PM ET

Claude Giroux isn’t the kind of guy who is fazed by slow starts, he simply shakes them off.

So while the lack of production from the Philadelphia Flyers captain was an obvious storyline heading into Sunday’s Game 2 of the Metropolitan Division semifinal with the New York Rangers, it was no surprise to see Giroux standing in the middle of a scrum and tackling questions head on.

Giroux knows he needs to be better after not managing a single shot on goal in Thursday’s 4-1 loss and he’s not about to shy away from the pressure he puts on himself to perform at a high level.

“It’s good pressure,” the 26-year-old from Hearst, Ont., said. “You want to be in this position. You want to be in the playoffs, you want to be in charge and you want to be the one making the difference. That’s what’s the best part about the playoffs.”

Giroux was held without a point for the first five games of this season and didn’t score his first goal until the 16th game, yet finished the campaign with 28 goals and 86 points to lead the Flyers and finish third overall behind Sidney Crosby and Ryan Getzlaf in league scoring.

Giroux’s resurgence was one of the big reasons the Flyers went from being out of the playoff picture to jockeying for position with the Rangers.


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“Sometimes as a hockey player, you get into some kind of a scoring slump when the puck doesn’t go your way. Even before he got out of the slump on the score sheet, he was playing good hockey,” said Flyers forward Jakub Voracek, who regularly skates alongside Giroux. “The guy (produces) a point-per-game for the last four seasons. It was just a matter of time. It was very good for our team and for him. During the last 60 games of the season, he was among the top-three players in the game.”

After taking over as captain from Chris Pronger on Jan. 15 of 2013, Giroux seemed to be burdened by the pressure of being the team leader but he has grown into the role over time.

“Being a young captain, it was tough on him, especially last year with not making the playoffs. He took a lot of it on his shoulders and maybe took the blame too much,” said Flyers forward Scott Hartnell. “(Giroux) is a competitive guy. He’s passionate about the game and he’s passionate about everything in life. He has a desire to win and be the best at everything.

“He really cares about everybody. You see how he has matured as a player and how he has gotten so good with the puck, he’s just coming into his own right now.”

Those are the qualities that lead you to believe that Giroux, who has one assist in five games against the Rangers this season, is due to break out of his drought at some point in this series.

Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault wasn’t buying a theory that his club could have the number of Giroux and his linemates when asked why his group — led by defencemen Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi — has been so successful shutting them down so far?

“It’s tough to answer. Those players are so skilled and so determined on the ice, maybe we just got lucky,” said Vigneault. “I don’t know. I do know when you play against a line like that, you’ve got to do the right things with the puck and so far, I think we’ve done a good job there.”

Rangers centre Brad Richards wasn’t interested in analyzing the reasons for the Rangers success against Giroux, Voracek and Hartnell.

“I can’t talk about that. (Giroux) is a dangerous player and there are dangerous players on that line,” said Richards. “I’ve been through it. You can break through at any time and it just takes one chance, (some) confidence and a little belief and away they go. They’re going to eventually get their opportunities eventually at some point and we hope to minimize them as best we can.”

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Alain Vigneault couldn’t help himself.

The first-year head coach of the New York Rangers showed some levity on Saturday during his daily press conference, cracking a good-natured joke about his predecessor when the cellphone of a media relations member went off.

“Now, if I was Torts ...,” said Vigneault, drawing a chuckle from the assembled media members before breaking out in laughter himself. “That was too easy.”

Former Rangers head coach John Tortorella — who replaced Vigneault as bench boss of the Vancouver Canucks last summer — has a well-known distaste for unsilenced cell phones and threatened big fines for folks who didn’t respect the rules after one went off during a press conference last September.

Neither Vigneault or Flyers head coach Craig Berube would discuss potential lineup changes for Game 2.

However, Flyers goalie Steve Mason has been ruled out of Game 2 as he continues to recover from an undisclosed upper-body injury that is believed to either be a concussion or whiplash.

Mason was on the ice for a second consecutive day but isn’t back to full health, which means Ray Emery start again on Sunday.

“It’s all part of the process,” said Mason, insisting he didn’t suffer a setback. “We need a little bit more time.”


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