Giroux finds motivation in Team Canada snub

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Giroux finds motivation in Team Canada snub

NEWARK, N.J. -- Claude Giroux admitted he was hurt, motivated and wanted to take his frustrations out on someone.

Not making the Olympic squad for Team Canada will do that to a world-class athlete (see story).

“Yeah, any time someone kind of takes something away from you, you want to prove them wrong," the Flyers' captain said after scoring a game-tying, third-period goal during the team’s 3-2 overtime win against the Devils on Tuesday night (see story). “But I’ve put that behind. I’ve got to move on and keep playing my game. It’s a fun game out there. I’m not going to stress myself on that.”

Giroux played a very tough 22:15 against the Devils and helped the team to pick up another two points on the road, where the Flyers are now over .500 (11-10-4) for the first time this season.

“I thought Giroux played an outstanding game, start to finish,” coach Craig Berube said. “He was physical. He competed and did everything possible out there. He put everything he had on the ice.”

Giroux's wrist shot from atop the left circle tied it at 1-1 at 5:18 of the third period.

“Anytime when Hartsy (Scott Hartnell) and Simmer (Wayne Simmonds) are in front of the net, they are so good at the net, I don’t have to shoot it hard,” Giroux said. “Wayne is pretty good in front of the net to get those rebounds. I just try to get it through. That was basically what I was trying to do.”

Hartnell gave the Flyers a 2-1 lead four minutes later, but the Devils tied it in the final 30 seconds to send the game into overtime before Brayden Schenn beat Marty Brodeur off the rush for the victory.

New Jersey scored in the first minute of the game, as well, to anger the Flyers.

“That’s the difference from the start of the year,” Giroux said. “They would get a goal and we’d panic or try to change something different. Now we keep our composure.

“We believe in the system and in our players. We know if we do the right things out there, we’re going to win. We go out there and do it.”

Linemate Jakub Voracek, who assisted on Giroux’s 13th goal -- which happened to also be a power-play goal -- said Giroux was possessed in the game.

Which was a given -- Giroux seemed devastated earlier in the morning when he found out he wasn’t chosen for Team Canada for the Sochi Olympics.

“He was strong on puck today in battles,” Voracek said. “He doesn’t take it the wrong way, doesn’t sit back and cry about it. He goes out and works even harder. That’s what makes him a special player.”

A player still wounded.

“I’ve kind of accepted I won’t be on the team and that’s fine. There’s a lot of good players out there,” Giroux said. “It can’t be an easy job for them to pick all those players.

“Right now, I’ll just work to help the Flyers keep winning games.”

Ron Hextall talks Flyers' draft focus, scouting reports on top prospects and more

Ron Hextall talks Flyers' draft focus, scouting reports on top prospects and more

While the NHL draft doesn't begin until Friday evening in Chicago, the Flyers' scouting department and management have been in the Windy City since Tuesday.

Talk about getting a head start for Friday's No. 2 overall selection.

"After the last meeting, you sit and we're talking about players," Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said this week. "There might be certain answers we need on players and they go back and do their homework.

"You have a couple more meetings and get back with a little more information. Things will change as we get more information to gather. Things will change a little bit but not too much, but we'll be more prepared."

The Flyers are expected to select either Halifax's Nico Hischier or Brandon's Nolan Patrick — both centermen — depending upon which player the New Jersey Devils tab at No. 1.

NHL Central Scouting's final rankings had the 6-foot-3, 198-pound Patrick ranked first over Hischier, who is 6-foot, 176 pounds. Hextall cautioned that the team doesn't always go by "public opinion," nor does its rankings always mirror those of Central Scouting.

"If you look at every team's list, they're way different," he said. "If you took the 31 lists, there would be a lot of differences."

The Flyers have 11 picks in the draft. Given they are very deep in defensive prospects and goaltenders, but short on wingers, they are expected to load up on forwards (see story).

"You kind of look at it that we do have a lot of defensemen," Hextall said. "Right now, in a perfect world, sit here and say, 'If we got seven forwards, three defensemen and a goalie,' [that would be ideal]. We're not going to pick a goalie if we don't see a goalie as a value pick.

"If we get to a guy we like and he's still there, then we'll take a goalie, but we're not going to chase a goalie this year. I would expect we'll pick one, but we're not going to chase one. On D? If we get two, I'm OK with that."

There is separation after Patrick and Hischier in terms of how other players in the first round relate to them.

It's fair to say that had the Flyers been picking at No. 13 — their original spot before they got lucky in the draft lottery — the field would have been wide open with a number of players of equal ability at 13, whereas, at No. 2, there's a defined two.

"It's harder to sort," Hextall said of his original draft position. "Because there's a lot of good players. There really is. We were sitting there at 13 and we were kind of zeroing in and we were pretty excited about the player we were going to get at 13.

"People talk about this draft, they say it's not a very good draft. They're wrong. It's a good draft. It might not be like the last two were, but the last two were bumpers. This is a good draft."

Here's Hextall's quick take on a few of the top players in the first round, in no particular order after Patrick and Hischier:

"We had dinner with both of them," Hextall said of the top two players in the draft. "And we met with them at the combine. So we've got certain more information on those two than some other guys. There were some other guys we had more time with, too.

"They're both two-way players. They both make plays. They can both score goals. They both compete hard. Hischier has a little bit more quickness and speed to his game. Patrick's a little bit more looks for the right play and makes the play. They're both really good players. Both should be top NHL players."

Gabriel Vilardi: 6-2, 193-pound center, who played for Windsor in the OHL (see story).

"I was in Europe during the Memorial Cup," Hextall said. "He's another good player. Smart, really skilled, big body."

Klim Kostin: 6-3, 198-pound center/left wing, who played for Dynamo Moscow in Russia.

"He's a big horse, talented guy," Hextall said. "That's another thing, the Russian thing. How much do you put into it? But he's a high-end talent."

Cale Makar: 5-10, 175-pound defenseman, who played with Brooks in the Alberta Junior League.

"Really good," Hextall said. "He skates really well. He's got a really high skill level. Moves the puck well. Right-handed shot. Played in Brooks. Played at a level that's not the major junior level, but he's a really good player."

Miro Heiskanen: 6-0, 174-pound Finnish defenseman, who played with HIFK.

"Heiskanen's a really good player," Hextall said. "Very well-rounded defenseman, moves the puck. He's a good one."

Although he is not expected to be among the top 100 players taken in the draft, Keith Primeau's son, Cayden, a 6-2¾, 181-pound goalie, who played with Lincoln in the USHL, is expected to be drafted (see story).

Primeau was ranked seventh by Central Scouting among North American goalies.

"I saw Cayden here at the prospects game," Hextall said. "He's good, he's got good size, good positioning, he moves well. Seems to read the game pretty well. He's a good prospect."

Ron Hextall: Vegas 'obviously did their homework' on Pierre-Edouard Bellemare

Ron Hextall: Vegas 'obviously did their homework' on Pierre-Edouard Bellemare

Flyers general manager Ron Hextall on Wednesday night reacted to losing alternate captain Pierre-Edouard Bellemare to the Vegas Golden Knights in the NHL expansion draft (see story).

"There were a number of guys I felt like there was a chance we would lose," Hextall said. "And Belly was on that list.

"Vegas obviously did their homework and have themselves a good player. Pierre-Edouard is a character member of our organization and he'll be missed."

Bellemare is the Flyers' second alternate captain to depart the club in the same calendar year. Mark Streit, whose "A" Bellemare inherited, was traded to Pittsburgh via Tampa at the NHL trade deadline.

Streit will likely see his name engraved on the Stanley Cup. The Penguins plan to petition to get his name on the Cup even though Streit did not play in the Final against Nashville.

As for Bellemare, the 32-year-old center was left unprotected by the Flyers last weekend. He signed a two-year contract in March that carries a $1.45 million cap hit per.

Bellemare had 17 goals and 34 points in 237 games in three seasons with the Flyers after signing with the team in June 2014.

"He's a terrific team player and an even better human being," Hextall said. "He was great in the community and he'll be a real nice piece for Vegas."