Giroux staying at center vs. Rangers

Flyers' Claude Giroux will remain at center Thursday against the Rangers. (Yong Kim / Staff Photographer)

   Claude Giroux will remain at center Thursday when the Flyers host the New York Rangers in a key game at the Wachovia Center.

   Giroux had been playing right wing on Mike Richards' line, but he switched places with Darroll Powe in Tuesday's 5-3 victory over Columbus.

   After Wednesday's practice, coach Peter Laviolette said Giroux would remain at center Thursday between wingers James van Riemsdyk and Arron Asham.

   Laviolette was pleased with the work of Powe and Giroux on Tuesday.

   "I thought Darroll did a terrific job just providing the forecheck. In the first period, I thought Richie's line really controlled the play in the offensive zone," Laviolette said. "They had 45-second shifts, 50-second shifts. They had a shift that was 1:02 of just pounding it down. They had a lot of good scoring chances from it."

    As for Giroux, "you got an opportunity to look at him coming through the middle of the ice...It was pretty impressive," Laviolette said. "When he gets off the wall and starts moving, he's gifted and he's got the speed to do it."

    On Tuesday, Giroux used a pretty move to avoid a defender and then set up a goal by Asham, who has eight points (two goals, six assists) in his last eight games.

    "I feel like I have more room when I'm playing at center," Giroux said, "and we try to be creative out there."

    The Flyers have won four in a row at home, during which they have scored 21 goals _ an average of 5.25 per game.

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    Goalie Ray Emery will make his third straight start Thursday against the Rangers, a team that is four points ahead of the Flyers.....Don't be surprised if Michael Leighton (remember him?) starts against his ex-team, Carolina, on Saturday afternoon.....Danny Briere was given an off day Wedesday _ a maintenance day, GM Paul Holmgren called it. Holmgren said Briere was not injured by an open-ice hit that seemed to leave him dazed Tuesday.....Jeff Carter and Mike Richards lead the Flyers with 19 goals each. Carter has played in 261 straight games _ 15 shy of Bobby Clarke for the third-longest streak in franchise history....Chris Pronger has points in seven of his last eight games....About 500 tickets remain for Thursday....Reminder: Sunday's game against the visiting Penguins has been moved to 12:30 p.m. to accomodate NBC.....RW Stefan Legein has 18 goals _ 16 with the Adirondack Phantoms and two with Syracuse....Phantoms goalie Johan Backlund has played well recently, lowering is GAA to 2.67.