DENVER - For the first time since he suffered a concussion on Dec. 10, star center Claude Giroux practiced with the Flyers on Sunday.
Giroux skated hard, but wore a yellow no-contact jersey at the Pepsi Center in Denver, where the Flyers will play on Monday night.
"He looked good," coach Peter Laviolette said. "To get him back on the ice, I think, is a lift for everybody. He's an extremely important part of our team, and to see him back on the ice, that's a positive."
It was also positive for Giroux.
"Today was obviously a good feeling to get back on the ice with the boys . . . and get a little skating and little sweat," Giroux said. "I mean, if I keep feeling the way I am right now, I'll go back on the ice, go on the bike, and get back in shape - and hopefully get back on the ice soon."
Asked if a return for the Jan. 2 Winter Classic was realistic, Giroux said: "I don't look into details. . . . With a concussion, you can't really predict when you're going to come back, so you wait, and I'll see how I feel when I wake up [Monday]. Usually it's the next day that you know how you feel in the morning."
Despite missing the last three games, Giroux shares the NHL lead with 39 points.
Giroux said he felt much better than the last time he tried to skate, which was without the team.
"It's a different story. I really didn't feel good the last time and was kind of dizzy and stuff," he said. "I understand it's just a process, and you have to be patient with this."
When you see what has happened to Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby - who has missed most of the last two seasons with concussions - "you want to be careful and make sure when you come back, you're 100 percent," Giroux said. "I think it's early in the season to jump [back into playing] when you're not feeling 100 percent. Obviously, I want to play and help the team, but I have to be patent."
Giroux said "every day is a little better" and that his headaches "were pretty much done."
This is the second concussion of Giroux's NHL career. In 2008, he was concussed on Jan. 2 when struck by Corey Perry's stick in Anaheim, Calif. Giroux missed the next five games and was back in the lineup 13 days later.
The Flyers, winners of seven of their last eight games, recalled center Ben Holmstrom from the Phantoms on Sunday, and he will likely play Monday because of a head injury sustained by Sean Couturier in Saturday's 6-0 loss to Boston. Holmstrom didn't arrive in time for Sunday's practice but was expected to get to Denver later in the day.
With Couturier and Giroux sidelined, the Flyers have scrambled their lines. At Sunday's practice, Danny Briere centered Scott Hartnell and Jaromir Jagr; Matt Read, who has been playing wing, centered Wayne Simmonds and Tom Sestito; Max Talbot centered James van Riemsdyk and Jakub Voracek; and Harry Zolnierczyk centered Jody Shelley and Zack Rinaldo.
Sestito is expected to be sent back to the Phantoms, and Holmstrom figures to play center on one of the lines.
The Flyers, who are in a stretch in which they play seven of eight games on the road, are missing four players who have concussions or head injuries: Giroux, Chris Pronger, Couturier, and Brayden Schenn.
"Ideally, we're healthy and ready to attack the road, but that's not the way it is," Laviolette said. "I still think the lineup we put on the ice [Monday] will have expectations that are the same. Nothing changes. We're going to go out there, and guys have to step up and fill roles and fill positions and fill minutes. That's the way it is."