Flyers host Rangers in preseason action
The Flyers hosted the New York Rangers Monday night in preseason action at Wells Fargo Center.
PHILADELPHIA >> Claude Giroux says he harbors no disappointments from his World Cup of Hockey experience, a somewhat idle exercise even if ultimately a championship one.
Giroux played in only one tournament game, Sept. 21 against Team Europe, as Canada was rolling toward the tourney title. He said at one point he didn’t think he had played well in the pretourney games, but wasn’t dwelling on that after the tournament.
“It was a good experience,” Giroux said Monday. “Having a chance to represent your country, that’s always something you’re pretty excited about . ... It was a lot of good players and a good coaching staff; it was a very good experience.”
As for his being mostly a scratch player for the tourney’s best team, Giroux added, “I wouldn’t say (I was) disappointed. Obviously you want to be out there helping the team, and make a difference. But I understand it’s their decision. You just have to move on and wait for your chance.”
It was entirely Giroux’s decision to not waste any time in getting back to playing hockey again Monday night at Wells Fargo Center. He wasn’t really part of an early scoring barrage that gave the Flyers a three-goal lead. That it dissipated late was easily overlooked when Jake Voracek made a rather incredibly strong play for a goal just 27 seconds into overtime, good for a 4-3 victory over the New York Rangers.
“That was a pretty impressive goal,” Giroux said of the 3-on-3 gamewinner by his old top-line partner. “I want to see that one again. He’s a big body. It was pretty impressive, against (Rangers captain) Ryan McDonagh, too. You don’t see that often because he’s a really good defender. You’ve got to take your hat off to Jake on this one.”
Voracek took the time to twirl and dance through McDonagh and a puzzled teammate, then muscled a shot while plowing goalie Mackenzie Skapski at the same time.
Not bad. Especially for a guy that for a long time last season couldn’t buy a goal.
“What,” Voracek said in mock defense, “you didn’t watch any hockey two years ago?”
Watching with great interest was a kid who was in Voracek’s old spot on the top line, Travis Konecny. He’d reveled in working next to Giroux, but was blown away by what Giroux’s old partner had just produced.
“Unbelievable. Fun to watch,” Konecny said. “It’s way harder than he made it look. He made it look pretty easy, but that was impressive.
“I’ve been saying it since the start of camp and preseason games, how I’m getting the opportunity to play with these good players around me. And I’m just out there right now being a sponge. I’m learning. I’m trying to bring as much as they do into my game and the little details.”
One of the better details of the game was that Konecny, playing with Giroux and Brayden Schenn, scored a power play goal at 12:02 of the second period which made it a 3-0 Flyers lead. It was his second of the exhibition season.
So the buzz over the 19-year-old forward continues. Playing with Giroux just added to it.
“He’s not scared at going to the net and he wins a lot of battles,” Giroux said of Konecny. “So he was definitely fun to play with.”
Coming off a world-wide event in which he spent most of his time doing “a lot of bag skates” at practices, just playing again for the first time in 11 days was enjoyable enough for Giroux.
“A little tough,” he said of playing after the layoff. “That was one of the reasons I wanted to play tonight. Get that awkward game out of the way and hopefully feel better next game.
“Getting back out there, getting a couple of hits and getting hit a couple of times, that’s fun.”
While Giroux was in for the first time of the preseason, his power play cohort and fellow World Cup alum Shayne Gostisbehere was playing his second exhibition, and looked just fine while contributing assists on the first two Flyers goals.
In that respect, he was only confirming what his spoken pre-game seasonal plan would be.
“I’m not going to change too much,” said Gostisbehere, last season’s revelation with 17 goals and 46 points in 64 games. “I’m going to be the same player,” he added. “You can definitely focus on other things. I’m definitely going to focus on my defense.”
Flyers right wing Jakub Voracek (93), center Sean Couturier (14) and defenseman Michael Del Zotto (15) celebrate after Voracek’s game-winning goal beat New York Rangers goalie Mackenzie Skapski (70) in overtime Monday in Philadelphia.