Flyers

Claude Giroux responds to Jeremy Roenick's offseason criticism

Claude Giroux responds to Jeremy Roenick's offseason criticism

VOORHEES, N.J. — Former Flyer Jeremy Roenick provided some interesting insight into the psychology of Claude Giroux this summer.

On CSN's July 14 edition of Philly Sports Talk, Roenick said, "The reason why Claude Giroux doesn't get success is [because] he lets everything get into his mind and he looks for other things to blame it on.”

What those “other things” are Roenick didn’t elaborate, but Giroux has been resilient in his refusal to use injuries as an excuse. Roenick’s assessment came back in July at the American Century Celebrity Golf Championships in Lake Tahoe, and on Wednesday, Giroux agreed completely that he experiences this mental overload.

“Yeah, I did [agree],” Giroux said, “and I don’t think there was anything negative about that. It was just about me proving who I am. He’s been in that position before and he knows how it feels. He said what I think.

"I’m actually close with Jeremy. Jeremy’s a guy that when he played, he had a chip on his shoulder. He wanted to prove every game that he was better than everybody else. It’s about having that mentality.”

A mentality no one questioned during Giroux’s ascension as one of the best players in the world. A talent that has earned him four All-Star Game appearances and helped him finish top five in voting for the Hart Trophy award as the league's MVP in 2011-12.

Since putting up 28 goals and 86 points in 2013-14, Giroux has seen his offensive production decline in each of the past three years, as he finished with just 14 goals and 58 points this past season.

Roenick referred to Giroux’s 2016-17 season as “a bad-luck situation,” one that can be remedied if he blocks out distractions.

“Put it back together,” Roenick said in July. “Show everybody why you're one of the best competitors in the game and get back up into that top-scoring aspect. And don't worry about slumps and don't worry about what people think of you, just be Claude Giroux. And if he does that, this team is going to prosper."

When I spoke to Giroux on Wednesday for the first time regarding his offseason and Roenick’s comments, I could sense some tension, which led to this awkward exchange …

Me: Do you look at this season as proving some of the doubters and critics wrong that your game is in decline?

Giroux: “Yeah, I read your stuff, so it's kind of motivation.” 

My only mention of Giroux this summer was part of an “End-to-End” column in which the CSNPhilly staff takes a topic and breaks it down. 

Me: “What did I say exactly?” 

Giroux: “Not positive, that’s for sure. But that’s how the business is and for me, it's to prove what kind of player I am and what I can do. The first thing I look at is that our team is looking very good right now. When the team goes well, individually, it’s a lot easier. You can see the mentality of guys coming to camp right now. It’s a different feel right now. I think guys just want more.”

Giroux’s response was a considerably different tone from the last time the media spoke with the captain, which came during the Flyers' cleanout day in April.

"I'm probably the toughest person to judge myself,” Giroux said then. "I'm really hard on myself. What you guys write and say, it doesn't really bother me."

Clearly what bothers Giroux mentally seems to be a little tougher to analyze than what he has endured physically.

A year ago, Giroux was overcoming hip/abdominal surgery and he wasn’t able to prepare for the regular season like he normally would have, as he joined Team Canada at the World Cup of Hockey tournament.

“Every summer is about finding new ways to get better,” Giroux said Wednesday of his offseason training in his native Ottawa. “This summer, I didn’t have to rehab all summer, so I actually had a chance to work out and do what I used to do.

"It was more getting back to explosive stuff, getting stronger, getting faster. I think it’s pretty much the same story for every player — find ways to get better. That’s what we did all summer.”

As he approaches his 30th birthday — he'll turn 30 on Jan. 12 — it’s almost inconceivable to think Giroux and the Flyers haven’t advanced in the playoffs since beating the Penguins in 2012 when the captain was just 24 years old. Those are prime years of a career you can’t get back. Some will say those are wasted years, while others believe you’re wasting time just thinking about it in those terms.

With training camp officially beginning next Friday, Giroux offered up one piece of self-advice Wednesday that will likely serve him best — not only for this season but for the rest of his career.

"It's about going out there and playing hockey," Giroux said. "That's what I know to do best is play hockey. Thinking about other things is not going to change anything how I play on the ice."

Samuel Morin's frustrating season continues

ap-samuel-morin-flyers.jpg
AP Images

Samuel Morin's frustrating season continues

Before this week begins, it’s time for our weekly check-in on the Flyers’ prospects playing in the AHL, overseas and at the junior and college levels.

Samuel Morin, D, 22, 6-7/202, Lehigh Valley (AHL)
It’s been a roller-coaster season for the 2013 first-round pick for many reasons, and the frustration continued last week for Morin. In the third period of the Phantoms’ 5-2 win over Hershey Saturday in the AHL Outdoor Classic, Morin departed with another injury. The injury may have occurred on this poke check, but there was no update post game.

Morin has appeared in 15 of the Phantoms’ 42 games because of injury and a brief two-game cup of coffee with the Flyers. It appeared Morin played well enough to make the Flyers out of training camp and stayed with the big club on the team’s opening four-game West Coast trip but didn’t play. Then on Oct. 29, the Flyers announced Morin would be called up to as a spot opened up, but then discovered he was injured.

We don’t know how long Morin will miss with his most recent injury or if he will miss any time at all. The Phantoms play Wednesday night, but a season like this could harm a young player’s confidence. One, many believe Morin should be with the Flyers, and if you ask him, he’d tell you the same. Add injuries to the mix, and it’s the perfect storm.

Wade Allison, RW, 20, 6-2/205, Western Michigan (NCAA)
Allison’s breakout sophomore season is over. He will miss the remainder of the season after suffering a lower-body injury in the first period of the Broncos’ game on Jan. 13. The 20-year-old was among the initial list of 74 nominees for the Hobey Baker Award. Before the injury, Allison was among the nation’s top scorers with 15 goals and 30 points in 22 games. We’ll see how the injury affects his decision to turn pro next season.

Pascal Laberge, C, 19, 6-1/192, Quebec (QMJHL)
Laberge, another prospect who’s had an up-and-down season, has trended upward over his last nine games with the Remparts, as he becomes more acclimated to his new club. The 19-year-old had two goals and two assists in three games last week for Quebec to extend his point streak to four games and he’s now averaging a point per game over his past nine games. Laberge’s story is one to root for and this season's been another rocky one for him. He’s battled inconsistency, and a trade, which, compared to the past, seem like small potatoes. But he’s on his best nine-game stretch this season, and we'll see if his recent showing will allow him to finish the year strong.

Quick hits
Morgan Frost saw his 20-game point streak end Friday night but picked up an assist in Sault Ste. Marie’s 4-2 loss to Flint. Frost had 45 points during his point streak. 

Philippe Myers registered his third goal of the season and his first since Oct. 28 last Wednesday night in the Phantoms’ 4-1 loss to the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins.

Myers’ first professional season has been met with injuries, but when he’s been on the ice, he’s making progress. He has eight assists and 11 points in 25 games this season.

• How did Carter Hart respond to allowing three goals on Jan. 14 for the first time since Nov. 10? You guessed right. Hart pitched another shutout Saturday night — his sixth of the season — and then extended his winning streak to 12 games Sunday.

Alex Lyon was excellent in net for the Phantoms on Saturday night vs. the Bears, turning aside 41 of 43 shots. He’s been better since returning Dec. 26 to Lehigh Valley.

• Hamilton’s Matthew Strome is enjoying a three-game goal streak. He has 28 goals in 43 games this season.

Here come Flyers with nasty OT combo

Here come Flyers with nasty OT combo

BOX SCORE

WASHINGTON — It may have taken eight straight unsuccessful overtime periods, but Dave Hakstol has finally found a deadly combination.

For the second time this week, the trio of Travis Konecny, Sean Couturier and Ivan Provorov scored on the opening shift of OT, as the Flyers beat the Washington Capitals, 2-1, at Capital One Arena Sunday, while also earning their third straight win (see observations).

Konecny knifed his way through a defender along the wall before cutting to the middle and beating Caps goaltender Braden Holtby with a snap shot from between the circles. Just three days ago, it was Couturier who connected 18 seconds into overtime of Thursday’s 3-2 victory against the Maple Leafs.

“We got a good opportunity and we capitalized on it," Couturier said. “It’s all about starting with the puck and trying to control it. We did a good job of hanging onto it.”

“We’re just finding ways to win hockey games,” Konecny said. “They’re tough games to win when you’re playing against good teams. We’re just keeping things simple and trusting our abilities. I know that those two are on the defensive side of things, and Coots makes sure I know that every time by giving me a heads up to stay below my guy in the defensive zone. It just seems to be clicking right now.”

The offensive-minded Konecny has now scored goals in back-to-back games for just the second time in his career with the previous occasion coming in November 2016 of his rookie season.  

The victory was also the Flyers' seventh in their last eight games, which propelled them back into a playoff spot for the first time since Nov. 11, a day that coincided with the start of the team’s 10-game winless streak. Currently, the Flyers occupy the first wild-card position and are just a point behind Columbus for one of three automatic berths in the Metropolitan Division (see standings)

“It’s about finding the way to get the win and I think earlier in the season that was one of the issues is that we didn’t find a way,” captain Claude Giroux said. “We were playing good hockey, but we didn’t find ways. Now, we’re finding ways and we can’t stop here.”

“It’s big and I think if we keep going on the same track, we’ll keep plugging away at teams above us,” said goaltender Brian Elliott, who made 27 saves on 28 shots. “We've got to keep our heads looking forward and not behind us. We can be our best and our worst enemy.” 

Right now, the Flyers have the luxury of relying on two steady goaltenders. Michal Neuvirth has won his last three starts, allowing just four goals, and Elliott looked refreshed in just his third start over a two-week period after receiving some extended rest with the bye week.

“He was sure sharp tonight,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “As much as rest, it’s just a day or two of maintenance work. When you play as much hockey as Moose has played for us, you don’t get those quality practice days in. Sometimes you forget the value of just good, simple work.”

“I think it’s the confidence level right now. Obviously, Moose and Neuvy stepped up over the last couple of games and they played outstanding,” said Michael Raffl, who scored his ninth goal that gave the Flyers a 1-0 lead. “When you have good goaltending, you have a chance to win every game in this league.”

Impressively, the Flyers (23-16-8) have three different three-game winning streaks in which they’ve been forced to play three games over a four-day period. The first set of three came on their Western Canada road trip beginning in Calgary. They also ripped off three straight victories in four days leading into their bye week.

“I think it’s just guys battling through that extra step, that extra fight. That’s what you want,” Couturier said. “You don’t want to just sit back and try to save your energy. You've got to push and push through it and fight for your chances.”

“That’s a real credit to the players with their preparation,” Hakstol said. “The mental side is about your preparation, especially a 12:30 p.m. game is a little bit different routine. I thought the first period was going to be one of the keys to this game. Our checking and our brains were turned on that way. Getting through that first period made us a better team with the puck and pushing the game in our direction.”

The Flyers have two more games before the All-Star break as they travel to Detroit on Tuesday before hosting the Eastern Conference-leading Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday.