Flyers captain Claude Giroux has made the switch from center to left wing appear seamless this season. Giroux has 13 goals and 21 assists. His 34 points are second on the team to Jake Voracek’s 38.
More impressively, he has a plus-9 rating after being minus-15 last year.
Giroux has been on the Flyers first line all season with Sean Couturier, who has 15 goals, tied for a season-high.
“I think it was an adjustment early on in the season,” Giroux said after today’s morning skate as the Flyers take a five-game winning streak into tonight’s 7 p.m. game against the Dallas Stars at the Wells Fargo Center. “Now being on the wing the entire time, you get a little more comfortable on the wall or even in the neutral zone defensively.”
The Flyers have won five in a row and that coincides with moving Wayne Simmonds to the first line with Couturier and Giroux, and Jake Voracek to the second line with Vattieri Flippula and Michael Raffl.
Giroux and Couturier have developed a strong chemistry.
“Playing with Coots is fun,” said Giroux, who will play in his 403rd game tonight as Flyers captain, second on the team only to Bob Clarke, who was captain for 610 games. “It’s not like I don’t take faceoffs, I take a good number of faceoffs.”
And he hasn’t lost his touch. Giroux has a 57.91 faceoff percentage (245 of 423), which is sixth in the NHL among players who have taken 275 or more faceoffs (Couturier is 23rd, with a 54.33 percentage).
A major factor for Giroux is that he is healthy this season. While he played all 82 games a year ago, Giroux admitted toward the end of last season that it took him awhile to feel like himself after hip and abdominal surgery in May of 2016.
“I feel good right now and it’s about taking care of your body,” said Giroux, who had 14 goals and 44 assists last season. “…I am in really good hands with the trainers here on the team.”
Flyers coach Dave Hakstol says Giroux’s diligent preparation has led to his success in the position switch.
“It is a credit to G, he studied it and I think he works a lot harder at it than people might know in terms of just seeing other players who have done it, but more so studying the things with his game, the strength of his game individually and how he can translate that to the left wing from the center ice position,” Hakstol said.
Growing up, Giroux did play some left wing so it wasn’t totally new to him.
“He seems to be pretty comfortable there and I think it is a little easier being a center moving to wing, than being a wing and moving to center,” Couturier said.
Still, it hasn’t been easy, even though Giroux has made it look so.
Notes: Brian Elliott will make his seventh straight start in goal tonight for the Flyers….Dallas coach Ken Hitchcock, in his second stint with the Stars, will be going for his 800th career win. A former Flyers coach, Hitchcock is 799-488-200. The only other NHL coaches to record 800 wins are Scotty Bowman (1,244) and current Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Queenville (867)…Dallas is coming off Friday’s 5-2 loss at New Jersey. Stars captain Jamie Benn (13 goals, 16 assists) and center Tyler Sequin (14 goals, 15 assists) share the team lead in points with 29.