The veteran forward, who’s made his name as one of the sport’s top centremen, has been shifted to the wing this season, allowing head coach Dave Hakstol to slot Giroux in alongside Sean Couturier and Jakub Voracek for a loaded-up top line. The experiment also creates room for more of the organization’s talented pivots to jump into the lineup, an issue made more pressing by the addition of No. 2 pick Nolan Patrick.
With a few games in the new role under his belt, Giroux looks to be settling into his spot on the wing well, capitalizing on his new position’s decreased defensive responsibilities by flexing his offensive creativity more regularly. The 29-year-old posted two slick assists during his team’s 5-1 win over the Boston Bruins on Thursday – both clubs sent out their NHLers for the pre-season tilt – and he’s hoping there are more performances like that one on tap this season.
“We found each other even a little better tonight,” Giroux told Philly.com’s Sam Donnellon after the victory. “We keep playing together and building on what we’re doing. … We love playing together.
“Compared to the first game, I feel so much better on the wing. I’m able to find the open ice more and more. (Couturier) and (Voracek) are two smart guys. They’re fun to play with. Making plays and building speed — I didn’t hate it, that’s for sure.”
Giroux’s new centreman agreed that the line is slowly building to something formidable.
“I think it is going well. Every game, we’re getting better,” Couturier said. “It’s a little adjustment playing with (Giroux), who hasn’t played wing for a while. We’re starting to read off each other pretty well and creating a lot of chances. So, hopefully we can keep building and get ready for the season.”
The Flyers captain is coming off a year hampered by significant injury, as surgeries last May to repair his right hip and an abdominal tear limited the formerly elite pivot as the season wore on.
When all was said and done, Giroux finished with a 14-goal, 58-point stat line as his club missed out on the post-season. Not good enough, according to the Hearst, Ont., native.
“We weren’t satisfied with the way we were playing last year,” Giroux said. “Our mind-set’s changed a little bit. I know it’s only pre-season, but the mind-set in the locker room has changed. We’re playing now like we have unfinished business.”