Fly­ers host Rangers in pre­sea­son ac­tion

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Rob Par­ent rpar­ent@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @Reluc­tan­tSE on Twit­ter

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.”

MATT SLOCUM — THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

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.

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