Claude Giroux won 9 of 11 faceoffs in his preseason debut Tuesday after recovering from offseason hand surgery. (USA Today Images)
Claude Giroux told a fib.
Smiling as he spoke to the media after Tuesday’s 2-1 preseason loss to the Devils, the Flyers’ captain admitted he had every intention of playing, even if he misled some into thinking he was postponing his preseason debut a few more days.
“I didn’t want to tell you guys,” said Giroux, who has been recovering from right hand surgery to repair torn tendons.
“A week ago, I went to see the doctor. That was the game plan -- to play tonight. Everything was going well. It went a little better than we thought, so it’s good to see.”
There were no restrictions placed on Giroux in terms of ice time or taking faceoffs. In fact, Giroux won 9 of 11 draws during the loss.
“Did I?” Giroux asked. “I think the stat guy was nice to me. Obviously, when you get your wingers to help you win the faceoff, usually 75 percent of the time it’s even and the wingers, whoever wins the battle [wins the draw].”
He said faceoffs were probably the biggest challenge with his hand.
“Just going back to the battles and we had one or two practices on the ice with battles while the whole game is about winning battles,” he said. “I got to work on that here. I’m not worried.”
Neither is coach Peter Laviolette.
“I didn’t see any issues with him in terms of puck battles or faceoffs, nothing like that,” Laviolette said, adding that Giroux needs to get back into the speed of the game and get his timing down with his linemates.
Laviolette said he had not noticed anything that Giroux was incapable of doing in training camp. Giroux said Monday there were still some things he wasn’t totally comfortable with on the ice.
On Tuesday, he said he meant that ... for real.
“I didn’t play hockey for three weeks,” he said. “It’s just a habit, playing hockey and making a quick pass. It’s gonna get there, but a game like tonight will help a lot.”
Giroux worked with his usual linemates -- Scott Hartnell and Jakub Voracek. His timing was understandably off, but that has to be expected. For example, he missed a pass to Voracek for what would have been a quality scoring chance in the opening period.
His shot seems fine. He drilled the crossbar during a Flyers' power play in the second period so hard, the net moved. That’s as good a positive as you can ask for in wondering about his hand strength.
Rookie Scott Laughton was wired for Tuesday’s game on The Comcast Network. He was also very vocal on the ice and said he felt it was necessary to allow his linemates, Jay Rosehill and Adam Hall, know where he was at all times.
Laughton is in a battle to earn a spot on the roster at center -- not wing.
Wayne Simmonds, who missed practice time in Lake Placid with the flu, did not play Tuesday. ... Defenseman Bruno Gervais’ stall was empty. It had just a nameplate, but no equipment. General manager Paul Holmgren said there was nothing to read into. The Flyers need to move at least one defenseman and another player by next week to get under the cap. ... Holmgren also said the club may carry just 13 forwards and if so, it might carry eight defensemen. But it just as easily could be 14 forwards and seven defenders, he added.