Flyers' Giroux returns, Voracek hurt

RON CORTES / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Claude Giroux played for first time since hand surgery Aug. 15 and appeared a little rusty at first but played well.
RON CORTES / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Claude Giroux played for first time since hand surgery Aug. 15 and appeared a little rusty at first but played well.
Posted: September 26, 2013

ON A NIGHT when the Flyers were finally able to piece together their first line for the first time this season, it didn't take three full periods for it to all fall apart.

Captain Claude Giroux returned to the lineup for the first time since undergoing hand surgery on Aug. 15, but winger Jake Voracek left the game in the second period after crashing into the post.

Luckily for the Flyers, Voracek's injury does not appear to be serious. General manager Paul Holmgren called it "probably an upper-body" injury.

Voracek slammed into the post and New Jersey Devils goaltender Cory Schneider after he was hauled down by Bryce Salvador on a breakaway.

A penalty shot was called on the play. Voracek didn't score on the attempt, trying to slip a half-hearted backhand through Schneider's pads. When he returned to the bench, Voracek winced in pain as he grabbed his lower back. He never returned to the ice.

Holmgren said Voracek could have played if needed and he did not require an X-ray or MRI. Voracek was not scheduled to play tomorrow night in New Jersey, but Holmgren expected him to play Friday in Washington for the Flyers' final preseason game.

"You never want to see that, but I love the move he made," coach Peter Laviolette said of his leading scorer. "I love that power move to the net, to take it from the outside with his speed."

With Giroux back for the first time since severing four tendons in his right hand while golfing this summer, the Flyers' top line with Voracek and Scott Hartnell appeared to be clicking. They combined for five of the Flyers' 23 shots in the 2-1 exhibition loss.

Giroux appeared a little rusty at first, but he wasn't limited by his hand in any capacity. In fact, Giroux was an impressive 9-for-11 (81 percent) in the faceoff circle - which he admitted was probably the toughest test for his surgically repaired hand.

"I think the stat guy was a little nice to me," Giroux joked. "As the game went on, I felt better. It was just getting back to battles. I've had maybe one or two practices doing battles, but the whole game is about winning battles. I've got time to work on it here and work on my hands, but I'm not worried."

Laviolette said Giroux looked good to him and that it will take his star center another game or two to get back to game speed. That will likely come in one of the final two preseason games before next Wednesday's opener against Toronto.

"He is always good," Kimmo Timonen said. "He is one of the guys who can miss a few games and still be good. He just has that natural skill. He's going to get even better, but he will need a couple games."

Game stuff

Since 1992, Martin Brodeur has played 88 regular-season games against the Flyers. Last night, the Flyers finally got a taste of what life will be like post-Brodeur, as he enters what appears to be his final NHL season.

Heir apparent Cory Schneider, acquired from Vancouver this summer, stopped 22 of 23 shots in just his second career appearance against the Flyers. In fact, Kimmo Timonen's power-play blast with 1:31 to play was Schneider's only blemish in three preseason starts. Schneider had stopped all 69 of his first exhibition shots faced as a Devil.

"We were kind of joking, it may be good to get it out of the way so you don't carry that into the season and have to think about it," Schneider said. "It doesn't really count, and come the start of the season, no one is going to care what happened. They are going to care going forward, and that's more important."

The Flyers could face Brodeur when they meet again tomorrow in New Jersey.

Ray Emery went the distance for the Flyers, stopping 17 of 19 shots. The Flyers outshot New Jersey, 18-8, over the final two periods and outhit the Devils, 36-11, overall.

Slap shots

The Flyers are now 1-3-1 on the preseason . . . Last night was the Flyers' first game against New Jersey since 76ers owner Joshua Harris bought the Devils last month . . . Flyers scratches: Luke Schenn, Zac Rinaldo, Bruno Gervais, Chris Vande Velde, Hal Gill, Oliver Lauridsen. Wayne Simmonds (flu) missed the game but did practice yesterday. Holmgren said Simmonds lost 6 to 7 pounds while sick, but he is expected to play tomorrow . . . Forward lines: Hartnell-Giroux-Voracek; Raffl-Lecavalier-B. Schenn; Talbot-Couturier-Read; Rosehill-Laughton-Hall.


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