In recent years, Claude Giroux’s name has been a fixture at the top of the Flyers’ scoring list so many times, it’s pretty much front page news when it isn’t.
Prior to the 2019-20 season, the team captain had led the team in scoring for six of the past eight seasons, with Jake Voracek edging him out in the other two.
After registering a career-high 102 points as recently as the 2017-18 campaign, Giroux not only didn’t lead the team last year, he slipped all the way to fourth with just 53 points in the pandemic-shortened, 69-game schedule.
The postseason wasn’t much better.
In 16 games, he posted only one goal and seven assists for eight points. Not the kind of production a team needs from a first-line left wing.
So naturally there will be a lot of attention focused on Giroux as he heads into the 2020-21 season, starting on Jan. 13 against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Can he regain the form that has him positioned to move into second place on the Flyers’ alltime scoring list, trailing only Hall of Famer Bob Clarke?
A total of 69 points by Giroux will move him past third-place scorer Brian Propp (849) and second-place scorer Bill Barber (883).
During a media Zoom call on Wednesday, Giroux said he’s approaching this season the way he would any other.
Nearing 33 years of age (next month), Giroux says he isn’t making any concessions to age just yet.
“As you get older, you kind of learn what works for you and doesn’t work for you,’’ Giroux said. “You try to put yourself in a position to succeed. With that, you can modify your workouts through the summer.
“I’m not worried about my age. I feel great right now. I’m excited for the season.’’
Along with his teammates, Giroux had a chance to see what a short training camp looks and feels like when the Flyers first reconvened back in July to begin the completion of the 2019-20 slate.
No doubt preparation and conditioning have to be compressed into a very short time frame, between this Sunday and the start of the season 10 days later.
“There are no preseason games so you have to make sure you’re ready to go,’’ Giroux said. “Game shape is really the only way to do that, to play games. We’re going to scrimmage every day here (at the Skate Zone in Voorhees, N.J.) and practice as long as we can, get our legs going.
“Right now it’s going pretty well but we have to keep the pace going.’’
Only a handful of Flyers went through the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season and Giroux was one of them. There were a few lessons to be learned from that 48-game schedule.
“Every game is going to be huge because you’re only playing games in your division,’’ Giroux said. “When you play back-to-backs and you play the same team (the Flyers play each of seven East Division opponents eight times), you need to make sure you do your homework well and are well prepared before games.’’
Also working in Giroux’s favor is his fitness and ability to avoid injury. He’s only missed 10 games out of a possible 889 in his career and currently is tied with Ivan Provorov for the Flyers’ longest active ironman streak (315 games), third on the team’s all-time list.
Giroux would rather forget some aspects of last season.
“I think the way the season ended left a bad taste in my mouth,’’ he said. “A lot of players on the team feel like we could have went a little further last year. It’s a learning experience for us, what we did in the playoffs.
“Knowing what we did that worked and what we did that didn’t work. I think it’s important that we talk about those things as a team and just learn from it.’’
>Myers ready for any scenario
Defenseman Philippe Myers enters his second season with the Flyers and some believe he could wind up as Ivan Provorov’s partner on the top pairing, given Matt Niskanen’s retirement.
Or he could return to the second unit with Travis Sanheim. Either way, Myers says he’s ready for where coach Alain Vigneault uses him.
“It’s not my decision at the end of the day,’’ Myers said during a Zoom call. “I definitely welcome the challenge (of playing with Provorov), of having a bigger role. I’m just going to try to work hard every day and earn it.’’
Regardless of where Myers plays at even strength, Vigneault says he plans to use Myers more on the penalty kill.
“I got a little bit of a taste of it last year,’’ Myers said. “I’m looking forward to taking on a little more responsibility.’’
Giroux likes what he’s seen so far of Myers.
“With Phil, off the ice and on the ice, he’s a hard working guy,’’ Giroux said. “He wants to learn and because of that, he is where he is right now. Sometimes for players, the best thing for them is to go back down in the American League (as Myers did last October), play a lot of minutes and learn about pro hockey.
“For him, you can just see the steps he took from two years ago to last year. We expect him to keep growing. He’s a fun teammate. When you have a teammate that wants to learn, he’s always fun to be around.’’
Getting cut and being sent to the Phantoms just as the season opened last year hurt but made him hungrier.
“It was definitely heartbreaking,’’ Myers said. “I’d worked so hard that summer. Just to get cut at the last minute there. It definitely made me appreciate everything a little bit more.
“When I got called up after I got cut, I didn’t take anything for granted. I just worked as hard as I could to make sure I didn’t go down. It was just that much better of a feeling when stuff started to happen up there for me.’’
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