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Giroux performs well with Olympic audience

by Staff

Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux picked the right night to have a strong game.

Giroux, hoping for a spot on Canada's roster for the 2014 Sochi Olympics, had a goal and an assist, four shots on goal and won 16 of 25 faceoffs -- including eight of 11 in the defensive zone -- in the Flyers' 6-3 defeat of the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday.

Watching in person was Canada executive director Steve Yzerman, as well as Detroit coach Mike Babcock, who will reprise his role as Canada's Olympic coach.

Giroux was invited to Hockey Canada's summer evaluation camp but had to skip it while recovering from surgery to repair severed tendons in his index finger sustained in a summer golf outing. However, Yzerman told the Philadelphia Daily News on Wednesday that Giroux's absence from the summer camp wasn't being held against him.

"We would have liked him to come," Yzerman said. "But he was busy rehabbing. That's fine. That doesn't make a difference."

Babcock wouldn't comment on the chances of specific players, but took time following the Red Wings' morning skate Wednesday to watch Giroux during the Flyers' skate. And it was certain he was paying attention to Giroux during the game Wednesday night.

"You just watch," Babcock told the Philadelphia Daily News. "And in the end you've got to pick the right team. Whoever has earned those opportunities is going to get them."

One of the big things working against Giroux, a natural center, is the large field of centers Canada can draw from, a list that includes the Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby, the Chicago Blackhawks' Jonathan Toews, Matt Duchene of the Colorado Avalanche, John Tavares of the New York Islanders, the Anaheim Ducks' Ryan Getzlaf and the Boston Bruins' Patrice Bergeron. If Giroux were to make the team, it's likely he'd have to shift to the wing.

"The reality is a lot of top Canadian players are centermen," Yzerman told the Daily News. "We don't want to take 14 centermen. We want to have some natural wingers."

Giroux told the newspaper he's doing his best to block out all the Olympic talk and just focus on his game. After starting the season with no goals, seven assists and a minus-11 rating in his first 15 games, he has five goals, eight assists and a plus-7 rating in his past 13 games.

"I think every game is important," Giroux said. "That's one thing I can't do, is starting thinking about that kind of stuff. I just need to go out there and play the game."

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