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October 23, 2013 | 9:55am ET
Giroux predicts Flyers will make playoffs
By David Strehle,

PHILADELPHIA, PA -- It has to be a helpless feeling being captain of an NHL team that is totally floundering and seemingly lost all direction.

For Claude Giroux, it's been quite some time since he's seen his Philadelphia Flyers playing in a really positive situation. Most of the post-game questions he's had to field over the last 10 months have centered around the team's continued struggles.

Philadelphia's NHL rankings show just how much of a mess the team has been during the first three weeks: 30th in points in the standings (2); 29th on the power play (3-33, 9.1%); 29th in goals scored (11 in eight games); 24th in goals-against (24).

Most of his answers have been about the effort put forth by himself and his teammates, and the lapses they've experienced so often over the last 56 regular season games.

"I think if we play 60 minutes, we'll start winning games," was his response following Philadelphia's latest meltdown on Thursday against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Wells Fargo Center.

And he's right. The Flyers have pretty much gone through the motions and had maybe a handful of nights where they can honestly say they gave it their all for the full 60 minutes since the beginning of last season.

Having recorded just three assists in his first eight regular season outings, the level of frustration in which Giroux has had to deal with in his own personal offensive drought has been another hot-button topic with the media.

As a matter of fact, production from the entire top line has been almost non-existent, as none of the regular threesome has been able to dent the twine in the early going. Jake Voracek has matched Giroux's paltry three assist total, while Scott Hartnell failed to record a point in the five games he appeared before suffering a lower-body injury.

With a week-long break following the embarrassing home loss to the Penguins, rumors were rampant that the Flyers would have a much different look by the time their next game rolled around Thursday night against the New York Rangers. There was much speculation regarding trades, even murmurings about a possible change in the club's GM.

Why wouldn't there be rumors? After all, Philadelphia hasn't exactly established themselves as the most patient of organizations through the years. This is the same front office that took a lot of heat by changing coaches only three games into the campaign.

Nothing has happened thus far during the week-long layoff other than Craig Berube having some extra time to drill home some of the aspects he is attempting to instill in his players as Thursday night's encounter with the arch-rival Rangers approaches.

It's obvious the team doesn't want to make any rash moves this time around, and any corrective action will be coming from within.

And it will all begin with Giroux. The captain spoke out after practice Monday.

"When you have the record we have right now, you're a little frustrated and you try to figure out what’s going on," he said. "But everybody came to the rink and we know there's a lot of hockey left to play here.

"We're not far at all. How many points are we off, six? To think that with the start we had, we're that close. We've never thought that we're not going to make the playoffs. We'll take it here game-by-game, and we will make the playoffs."

With the Flyers just a half-dozen points behind the third-place New York Islanders with 74 games remaining in the schedule, there is plenty of time to make up the lost ground in the still very-early season. Especially when you consider just how bad it has been so far, I referred to the newly-formed Metropolitan Division as "the new Southeast Division" (or new worst division in the league) in the media elevator following Thursday night's debacle.

Even with so much time remaining in the season, Philadelphia has a monumental task ahead of them. They've received excellent goaltending from Steve Mason that's been far better than expected, but their 29th-ranked offense (1.3 goals per contest) has been the biggest problem.

With the talent they've collected, that was not something that was foreseen.

While Giroux's candid forecast is hardly comparable to that of Mark Messier's bold prediction when the Rangers' captain guaranteed a win over the New Jersey Devils prior to Game 7 of the 1994 Eastern Conference Final, it is still something for which his teammates can rally around.

Giroux has shown flashes of the dynamic offensive player he's been known for, and came close to picking up his first goal of the season in the loss to the Pens when he hit the post twice.

It would seem it's just a matter of time before the floodgates are opened, both for Giroux and the Flyers.

There will be no bloodletting during this week off, and no new faces to try to integrate into a lineup that has already been failing miserably in an attempt to mesh together as a unit. It would seem to be the organization's way of telling the players that they're good enough, and that they are expected to play their way out of this funk.

That's the way it should be, with the team's best player and captain leading the charge. Now, it's time to translate that passion into success on the ice.

David Strehle is the Philadelphia Correspondent for The Fourth Period.

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