Although it was a dream come true for Claude Giroux when he was selected to play for Team Canada in the Hockey World Cup, the Flyers captain expected to see the ice more than he did in last month’s tournament.
Giroux suited up for just one of Canada’s six games. His lone appearance came against Team Europe during pool play, when he mustered just one shot in 15 minutes, 50 seconds as a member on the fourth line. Otherwise, he spent the other games watching from in the press box at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.
Claude Giroux is not used to being a healthy scratch for one game, let alone five, although his availability may have been affected by a knee injury following a big hit from Joe Pavelski in a pretournament game. Giroux also had hip and abdominal surgery following the season in May.
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However, the captain looked healthy — albeit rusty after playing in his first game in over a week — and was back on the first line in his Flyers preseason debut against the Rangers on Monday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
“It was a little tough,” Giroux said after the Flyers’ 4-3 overtime win. “Part of the reason I wanted to play tonight was to get that awkward game out of the way and hopefully feel better next game.”
In 19:36, Giroux finished with two shots and was 10-for-18 on face-offs while centering Brayden Schenn and heralded rookie Travis Konecny.
“Yeah, I was pretty excited,” Giroux said. “I haven’t played in 10 days so to get back out there and [dish out] a couple hits and get hit a couple times, it’s fun. Hopefully, I can go forward from here.”
Konecny, who added his second goal of the preseason on the power play, has been paired with either Jake Voracek or Giroux in the last two games.
“It’s definitely a little nerve-wracking when you first get into the game and you see the guys you’re playing with,” said Konecny, who find out this weekend if he made the team or will be sent back to juniors this year. “But, I definitely got my feet under me after the first period [on Monday] and things started happening for us.”
Giroux was impressed with Konecny’s performance.
“He is aggressive and competes,” Giroux said. “He is not scared of going to the net, he wins a lot of battles and is definitely fun to play with.”
Flyers coach Dave Hakstol echoed his captain’s sentiments but added the caveat that there are still many areas of Konecny’s game that need to be cleaned up.
“He did a good job with that line,” he said. “They created a little bit of offense, and overall they had a solid night.”