PHILADELPHIA – A healthy Claude Giroux is a confident Claude Giroux.
And a confident Giroux is right back among the NHL’s elite scorers.
Another three-point game by Giroux in Saturday’s 6-3 win over the St. Louis Blues moved the Flyers captain into second place in NHL scoring, pending Saturday night action.
He leapfrogged such stars as Steven Stamkos and John Tavares, which tells you something about the kind of season Giroux is having.
No one except Giroux knows how much he was hindered by his 2017 offseason abdominal surgery. But it only takes a quick look at the record book to see he wasn’t totally himself, as he produced only 57 points.
Look at it this way: In just 41 games (half a season), he has already produced 51 points.
When coach Dave Hakstol moved Giroux from center to left wing and put Sean Couturier in Giroux’s center spot, that helped too.
“You want to be the best player you can be at all times,’’ Giroux said. “Being able to have that chemistry with ‘Coots’ makes my job a lot easier. He is really an underrated player. Defensively he is really smart. We communicate well together. Having TK (Travis Konecny) on the line now we just have a good chemistry going. We know we can play better but we have to keep communicating.”
Giroux said he doesn’t want to use the surgery as an excuse.
“You don’t want to over think it too much,’’ he said. “You just kind of go out there and play well for your team. Just try to do what you do best. I think that is one thing with this team, guys really focus on what they do best. Just go out there and do it.”
The Flyers captain didn’t mind the change to left wing.
“I play a little once in a while, I still take a lot of faceoffs and I don’t really consider myself a winger that much, but we don’t play defensively a lot, which is really smart there, our D are moving the puck well and so it’s just a lot easier.
Giroux is a plus-9, a big improvement over the previous two seasons. He gives some credit to Couturier.
“Well, I think when you get older you kind of learn from your mistakes,’’ Giroux said, “and what you do and you just learn from it and I’ve always said when a team goes well, individually it’s a lot easier, so we’re playing some good hockey right now.
“I’m going to say it again, Coots in the middle helps a lot. We don’t play defense we play offense and your best defense is your offense.’’