NEW YORK — If first impressions mean anything, Claude Giroux, the Flyers center who has been one of the NHL’s leading scorers the last seven years, will start the season at left wing.
OK, it’s only one preseason game. A lot can happen in the last three exhibitions to change things.
That said, the line of Sean Couturier centering Giroux and Jake Voracek started slowly but got better in each period, creating lots of attack time in the Flyers’ 3-2 overtime loss to the New York Rangers on Monday night.
The line didn’t score, but the trio fired 15 shots (six on goal) and was buzzing around the net over the last two-plus periods.
“I thought each period they created good scoring chances, and it comes down to a little bit of timing and completing a couple of those plays,” coach Dave Hakstol said.
Hakstol said he wanted to look at video of the game, but that the linemates may have had a “tendency to make one more pass instead of putting it on net and looking for one of those greasy goals. But overall, there were some good things there.”
Asked if the lack of “finish” may be because the three players are pass-first forwards, Hakstol said, “I think it may be a product of being together for the first time. I’m not going to read more into it. … It’s not going to be complete on night number one. We’ll go back and take a real close look at it, and I think there were enough positives there to see if it can grow.”
The line is expected to be together again Tuesday against the Rangers at the Wells Fargo Center.
Hakstol said if the line stays together, it could help Couturier produce more on the offensive side.
On his best chance of the night, Giroux fired wide on a two-on-one with Voracek late in the first period.
“Usually our chemistry is a little better than that,” Giroux said, “but as the game went on, we were able to find each other a little more.”
The Flyers have an abundance of centers, which is one of the reasons they are tinkering with a position switch for Giroux.
“If it makes our team better, I will gladly go on the wing and try it out, and if they want me to play defense, I’ll play defense,” Giroux said. “Like I said, it was a little adjustment, and we’ll see [Tuesday] if I’m back on the wing or back on the center.”
The Flyers outshot the Rangers, 39-31, won 62 percent of the faceoffs, and had a territorial advantage. But they failed to convert on any of their five power plays. In fact, the second power-play unit looked better than the first one.
“I think tonight was a good game for us; we had the puck where we wanted it. Defensively, we played well,” Giroux said. “If our power play can get a goal or two, [the Flyers probably win]. We’re still trying to figure it out and be on the same page, but overall, I think every situation we had today was better than the games we had before.”
Travis Konecny and Travis Sanheim led the Flyers with five shots each. Sanheim had two goals. … Giroux on Sanheim: “He’s doing what the coach tells him to do and it’s paying off for him. He’s got a great attitude, he loves the games, loves to be on the ice and it shows out there.” … Couturier won seven of 10 faceoffs (70 percent) and Giroux won five of eight (63 percent). … The Flyers are 1-1-3 in the preseason, and four of their five games have gone into OT.