VOORHEES, N.J. -- Philadelphia Flyers center Claude Giroux was cleared on time physically after hip surgery last summer, but it took far longer for him to clear the injury from his mind.
Giroux said recovery from May 17 surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right hip, as well as bilateral abdominal tears, was more difficult than any previous injury he's dealt with, including surgery on both wrists after the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"I don't think I've ever had trouble with my wrist after surgeries," he said. "[Hip surgery] definitely was different. Wasn't the mental game like it is right now."
Giroux has six points (two goals, four assists) during a six-game point streak entering the Flyers' game against the Carolina Hurricanes at Wells Fargo Center on Sunday (7:30 p.m. ET; CSN-PH, FS-CR, NHL.TV). It's the best he's played since he had points in 10 straight from Oct. 15-Nov. 2.
"I think when you feel a little bit more comfortable you get that jump in your play, you feel more comfortable keeping the puck," he said. "Just trying to make the right play out there."
Giroux was expected to need 10-12 weeks to recover from surgery, and he began skating after nine weeks. He then played one game for Team Canada during its run to the championship at the World Cup of Hockey 2016.
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Early in the season Giroux was riding the adrenaline that comes with the start of a new season plus the World Cup win, and he had 16 points (four goals, 12 assists) in his first 15 games.
Giroux's strong play didn't last; he had 29 points (eight goals, 21 assists) during his next 49 games, and things on the ice that had been natural for him prior to the surgery weren't so easy.
"When you try to make plays that you used to make and you can't really make them it's frustrating and confusing," he said. "… It was new. You're trying to do the things that you know you can do, it's just not happening. You try to think a little bit too much about how you can be the player you want to be. It's not easy. But it's … you've got to work at it. I think it's more off-ice. You've got to go in the gym and make sure your body is feeling good. Mentally before games you try to make [yourself] feel a little bit better and try to go out there and help the team win."
He said it's been a gradual process of dealing with the residual soreness in his hip while being able to play his game.
"I think when you don't think about that kind of stuff you just go out there and play the game," he said. "When it's in the back of your mind you're not really thinking about the game, you're mostly thinking about your hip, I think it's important to focus on the right things. Even if you don't feel good out there you've got to find a way to feel good mentally.
"I don't think it's one day. It's gradually you start feeling a little better. When you're in the gym and you feel good your confidence is like, 'I'm starting to feel better.' It's exciting. … When you start gaining that confidence back and you know you can make those plays you go out there and make it happen."
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He's been making it happen the past six games.
"I've really noticed the pace and the speed of his game has been very good over the last 10 days, two weeks," Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said. "Seems like he's been able to elevate a bit there. … The pace of his game, the quickness and the speed and the pace of his game, both with and without the puck, has been at a little different level recently."
The Flyers will need Giroux at his best if they're going to keep their dimming hopes of making the Stanley Cup Playoffs alive. They are seven points behind the Toronto Maple Leafs for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference with 12 games remaining.
"Definitely feel better out there," he said. "Trying to find ways to help the team win. Right now we're having trouble getting the points [in the standings] so we've got to go back to basics and keep working hard."