Going from junior hockey walk-on to first-round NHL draft pick to NHL All-Star takes equal parts skill and confidence.
For Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux, who traveled that very path to becoming one of the top players in the League, neither seems to be in great abundance right now.
Through four games, he has no points and a minus-2 rating. He says the lacerated tendons in his right index finger, sustained in a summer golf outing, are not a problem. His other numbers appear to prove him right. He's tied for second on the team with 10 shots on goal and he's won 52 percent of his faceoffs.
Flyers captain Claude Giroux has struggled to start the season, but he's working towards regaining his confidence. (Photo: Len Redkoles/NHLI)
Still, Giroux admits that his confidence has dipped as the Flyers have gotten off to a difficult start to the 2013-14 season that cost coach Peter Laviolette his job.
"The confidence is not there," he said following the Flyers' 2-1 defeat of the Florida Panthers on Tuesday, the team's first game with new coach Craig Berube behind the bench. "I don't think it's related to the [finger]. It's just that confidence is not there."
Giroux isn't the only top Flyers forward not scoring. Scott Hartnell, Wayne Simmonds, Jakub Voracek, Sean Couturier and Matt Read have combined for zero goals and two assists.
But Giroux is the captain, centers the top line, plays in all situations and is the player counted on the most to produce offensively. It's something he's always done. In fact, the last time he went as many as four games without a point was Nov. 24 to Dec. 1, 2010.
He was a point-per-game scorer last season, and finished third in the League in 2011-12 with 93 points. So where has all that gone?
Giroux is struggling to find an answer, but that only could be exacerbating the problem.
"I think [Giroux] is trying a little bit too hard," Berube said. "Personally, I think that. He gives everything he's got out there and sometimes it's too much. You know how it is; you try too hard, you can’t accomplish the things you want to accomplish."
Giroux said he's doing his best to stay positive. Tuesday's victory, the Flyers first of the season, gave the players extra jump. However, he was limited to one shot on goal and was a minus-1 in 20:01 of ice time.
"I just want to play good," he said. "I want to play to my best abilities. I think there's a lot of frustration right now. It's not that I'm not trying out there. Plays are not there; I'm trying to make them there."
Giroux said he'll spend the time he has before the Flyers' next game, Friday at home against the Phoenix Coyotes, adjusting to Berube's new system and figuring out how he can best function within it. He said getting back to the basics of his game could be the best route.
"It's a beautiful game," he said. "You have to enjoy it. It feels like I’m not enjoying it right now. Go back to the basics here, start playing a little bit more physical. I don't know [but] I'm sure I'll figure it out."