NASHVILLE - Flyers center Claude Giroux has blossomed into one of the NHL’s elite players, but he is trying to get through his first prolonged slump of the season.
Maybe he’s trying TOO hard.
You can hear the disappointment in his voice after games. You can see his frustration as he slams his gloves on the bench after a goalless shift.
Giroux, an ultra-intense competitor, has one goal in his last 10 games.
“It’s not really about the stats, it’s that I know I can play better,” Giroux said after he and his linemates, Scott Hartnell and Jaromir jagr, were shut down by defensemen Shea Weber and Ryan Suter in the Flyers’ 4-2 loss in Nashville on Saturday. “I want to help the team win. And the last few games, that’s not the case. I think I just have to go back to doing things simple.”
Flyers coach Peter Laviolette senses Giroux has been pressing lately.
“I’m sure you get frustrated a little bit. We’re trying o talk him out of that,” Laviolette said. “He’s a terrific talent and I think all players (go through it). I’ve said this before, there’s always peaks and valleys. There’s the ebb and flow of things. It’d be great if teams and players only experienced great things through the course of 82 games, but that’s not the way life is.”
Giroux, who entered Sunday tied for second in the NHL with 49 points, isn’t in a slump because of a lack of effort, and he (ital)is)end ital) helping out in other areas, such as the penalty kill and face-offs. He had five shots, won 52 percent of his faceoffs, and played a team-high 25 minutes in Saturday’s loss.
“I just have to find a way to battle back,” said Giroux, an 18-goal scorer. “….I just have to keep working harder and things are going to come back to what it was. Like I said, I’m pretty frustrated about my game right now. I’m trying to work hard and outwork other players.”
Since missing four games because of a concussion, Giroux has two goals and eight assists in 11 games. He had a goal and three assists in his first game back.
Giroux, minus 6 in his last four games, said he has had no ill aftereffects from the concussion.
“I feel good,” he said.
Winger Wayne Simmonds, who scored his 12th goal on Saturday, watches Giroux’s work ethic and doesn’t think his slump will last long.
“I’m not concerned about him,” Simmonds said. “Claude’s a heart-and-soul type of player. He battles for everything. Even if he’s not scoring, he’s out there battling on the ice. He’s a leader on this team and he’s going to step it up and when he does, they’re going to come in bunches.”
A year ago, Giroux had 16 goals in his first 33 games, but managed just nine goals in his last 49 games.
* * *
Breakaways: Giroux will be honored by the Philadelphia Sportswriters Association as the city’s top athlete on Jan. 30 at the Crowne Plaza in Cherry Hill. Tickets are available at PSWAdinner.com…… After a 2-2 road trip, the Flyers host Minnesota on Tuesday. “It’ll be nice to go back home to our fans and get a couple points and take it from there,” said Simmonds, who began Saturday on a line with Matt Read and Brayden Schenn. Later in the game, Sean Couturier replaced Schenn on the line, which was the Flyers’ best on the night..…Having successfully hosted the Winter Classic, Flyers president Peter Luukko hopes it will sway the NHL toward having a future All-Star game at the Wells Fargo Center. “We contacted the league last year and said we’d love to have the game here,” Luukko said. “Coming off the Winter Classic and all the excitement it produced, we feel we’d be a great candidate. We’re one of the few arenas built in the era that hasn’t had one.” The Spectrum hosted the 1992 All-Star Game; the WFC, then known as the Core States Center, opened in 1996.
Contact staff writer Sam Carchidi at email@example.com or on Twitter @BroadStBull.