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Q&A with Flyers captain Giroux

Claude Giroux talks about the Flyers' slow start and current resurgence as the team prepares for a game in Winnipeg.

Flyers captain Claude Giroux. (Chris Szagola/AP)
Flyers captain Claude Giroux. (Chris Szagola/AP)Read more

WINNIPEG, Manitoba - It has been a trying year for the Flyers - and for captain Claude Giroux. Nearing the quarter pole of the season, the Flyers entered last night just three points back of a playoff spot. Giroux netted his first goal of the season on Saturday against Edmonton to kick-start a three-game winning streak.

The Daily News caught up with Giroux yesterday at the Flyers' hotel in Winnipeg. Here's what he had to say:

Question: The question everyone wants to know is, has this team officially turned the corner after Wednesday's win in Pittsburgh?

Answer: Honestly, I think we'd been playing well the last 3 weeks or a month, but hadn't found a way to put everything together at once. I think [Wednesday] was a great example of how far we have come. It was a tie game in the second period, [Sidney] Crosby scored. We found a way to get the goal that we needed, and then we locked the game down in the third period. That's something we haven't been able to do much this season.

Q: The goaltending has been the one constant all season. In your mind, what is the biggest reason for the change: better offense or defense? You could make a case for both.

A: It may surprise a lot of people, but I think the reason why we are scoring more is that the defense has been so good. When "Mase" [Steve Mason] or "Razor" [Ray Emery] make a big save, or we have a good breakout defensively, it leads to odd-man breaks and good offense. That is something [coach Craig Berube] has been stressing.

Q: Sometimes it can take a while for a coach's system to see results. Do you think that is the case here? The Flyers are 7-7-1 since Craig Berube took over.

A: Yes. "Chief'' is strict in what he wants us to do in the defensive zone. It maybe took a while for everyone to buy in and understand what he wanted, following his system. It's pretty obvious that it is working. He is a smart hockey guy."

Q: What is your relationship like with Berube?

A: My relationship with him is good, it always has been good since he coached the forwards when I first got here. I think we think the game the same way. Sometimes I need to slap myself when he says something, because it is exactly what I was thinking or what I would say in that situation. It's scary.

Q: Take me back to Oct. 7. What was that day like when you found out Peter Laviolette was fired? Do you feel like, as the Flyers' captain, there was a little more pressure on you?

A: It was tough. I had a close relationship with "Lavy" too, and I really liked Lavy. It's tough any time a coach gets fired. When the team is playing bad, the coach is the first thing everyone looks at, and I don't always agree with that. That isn't always the right thing. When a coach is fired, I think as players we need to look at ourselves in the mirror, we are the reason that happened. I have a lot of respect for Lavy and I know it won't be tough for him to get a job somewhere else."

Q: Have you spoken to Laviolette since then?

A: Not really, I haven't. I'm sure I'll be in touch with him soon.

Q: We're back in Canada again. You were asked on Tuesday in Ottawa about your chances to make the Canadian Olympic team and you said you don't want to read into anything. But does that mean you aren't thinking about it?

A: I try not to think about it. What I said is that I don't want to read what people are writing about me. I grew up watching Team Canada and the Olympics. From the time you're small, you want to represent your country. It is obviously an honor to represent your country - and the only way we can do that is by playing hockey. I don't want to think about it, I try to focus on the Flyers, they are always my first priority, making sure we are in a good position. But it is the Olympics, it's something I've dreamed about. I try not to think about it, but it's in the back of your mind. It's always there."

Q: Have you talked to Steve Yzerman or anyone at Hockey Canada? He said he would pick the team based on performances in the first 25 games.

A: No, I haven't. Not yet.

Q: How different is the feeling in the locker room since last week's players-only, postgame meeting after the loss to New Jersey? You are 3-0 since then.

A: Everyone on this team cares. Everyone on this team cares about each other off the ice, we have a really good group that does a lot together. I think we just needed to show that we care about each other on the ice, too. Maybe we didn't know how to do it or show it until we talked about it. We did that.

Q: Is it a coincidence that the wins have started coming since you scored your first goal? Do you feel like you scoring has opened things up for everyone else, maybe relaxed everyone?

A: I feel like we had good chances before that, they just weren't going in. There's no doubt, though, that getting that first one relaxes you. I don't know if it did for everyone else, but it did for me. There is no feeling like having the puck hit the back of the net, and I just missed that feeling you get. It definitely lifted the weight off my back.

Q: Three weeks ago, you more or less guaranteed the Flyers would make the playoffs. Some said that was a bold statement - even with 72 games to play. What made you feel so sure?

A: Look at us now. We're not that far away, are we?

Q: Finally, what is it like to be you? Not too many get a glimpse inside your life. Do you ever stop to pinch yourself? Five years ago, you were a rookie. Now, you are captain of a proud franchise and you've signed a contract that will set you up for life.

A: [Laughs]. Everything has happened so fast. I remember when I was just playing hockey in junior and it was just for fun. I am thrilled to be where I am with the Flyers, it's been a lot of hard work. Being where I am is a lot of responsibility. I think sometimes when I walk away and I think of what's really happening, remind myself that I'm playing hockey for a living, that's when I start having fun again.

Slap shots

The last two games, the Flyers have committed just six giveaways but forced Ottawa and Pittsburgh into a combined 30 turnovers . . . One team will have their three-game winning streak snapped tonight when the Flyers and Jets collide . . . The Flyers are 1-3-0 against the Western Conference this season. The West is 75-32-12 against the East and Winnipeg is 3-1-1 . . . The Flyers are 2-2-0 at MTS Centre, the loudest building in the NHL, since the Jets moved back to Winnipeg in 2011 . . . The Flyers are 4-0-1 in their last five road games.