Giroux makes preseason debut as Flyers beat Rangers

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Flyers forwards Matt Read and Wayne Simmonds. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

Claude Giroux, playing in his first preseason game, made a solid return Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

Sidelined by an undisclosed lower-body injury suffered 15 minutes into the first day of training camp, the Flyers captain made dazzling first-period passes and spent lots of time weaving around New York Rangers defenders.

Giroux showed a bit of rust, but he still played 16 minutes, 53 seconds - the most among Flyers forwards - despite getting just five third-period shifts.

"I just wanted to get the feel of the game," Giroux said. "I think it was good. I was able to move around and get the feel of the puck."

The Flyers dressed most of their regulars and scored a 4-2 win against what amounted to New York's "B" team.

Giroux, who finished third in the NHL with 86 points last season, was kept off the score sheet, but he created several scoring chances.

"You can practice as much as you want, but games are where you get your rhythm," he said.

"It's good for him to play some preseason games, because it's tough to jump straight into the season," winger Jake Voracek said. "I got hurt and played just 11/2 preseason games last year, and it made it hard, so it's good to see him back.

"To me, he looks faster than ever."

After Carl Hagelin scored a shorthanded goal by firing a high left-circle shot past Ray Emery, the Flyers tied it at 1 as Sean Couturier converted a Wayne Simmonds pass and scored from the right circle with 6:14 remaining in the first period.

The newly formed Couturier line had two goals, excluding an empty-netter by Matt Read (three points).

Emery also returned from a lower-body injury and made 24 saves, including a key stop on Ryan Bourque from the doorstep with 5:28 left.

The Flyers (3-3-1) took a 2-1 second-period lead when Nick Grossmann scored on a tracer from the point. With 6:35 left in the second, Simmonds (two points) tipped in Read's wrist shot to make it 3-1.

The Flyers conclude their exhibition schedule Thursday in Washington, and coach Craig Berube said he expects Giroux to play. Berube said he wants to use all of his projected starters, which means goalie Steve Mason will get the call.

The Flyers will make their final roster cuts before heading to Cape Cod on Friday for some practices and bonding time, Berube said.

 

Roster battle

If the Flyers carry only 13 forwards, it appears that Blair Jones, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, and Jason Akeson are battling for the final two spots. Scott Laughton, Chris VandeVelde, and Zack Stortini probably will be sent to the Phantoms.

If the Flyers decide to start the season with 14 forwards and 23 players, Jones, Bellemare, and Akeson figure to make the team.

Akeson had an assist and Bellemare had a strong game Tuesday. Jones did not play.

 

Ice Girls returning

During a first-period break, Flyers public address announcer Lou Nolan informed fans that the Ice Girls will return for the regular season.

Well, at least some of them. There will be tryouts, males and females, on Sunday at the Skate Zone in Voorhees. Check-in is at 11 a.m.

For the preseason, the Ice Guys scraped the surface during breaks, and they were booed loudly.

"When Flyers fans voice their concerns, we listen," said Shawn Tilger, the team's chief operating officer of business operations.

The boos continued Tuesday.

"Come on, gang," Nolan pleaded at one point. "Don't boo these guys. It's not their fault" that they're guys.

 


scarchidi@phillynews.com

@BroadStBull