At a spirited practice yesterday ahead of a weeklong road trip, Giroux had some extra pep in his skates. He playfully bumped into Scott Hartnell several times, traded a high-five with Nick Grossmann, then finished the session by beating goalie Steve Mason twice in three attempts during an impromptu one-on-one drill. He looked back at Mason, who also was terrific during the hour-long practice, and flashed a big smile.
"Before, I would say [scoring goals] really doesn't make a difference," Giroux said. "But now, a little bit of the pressure is off. Being able to help the team to win was the main thing."
Continuing the momentum won't be easy as the Flyers play at Ottawa this evening to start a stretch of three road games in 4 nights. They play at Pittsburgh tomorrow and at Winnipeg on Friday. It's the first multigame road trip since Craig Berube took over as head coach.
"The team gets together a lot more when they're on the road," Berube said. "Sometimes at home, there's a lot of pressure. There's not as much on the road. I think it's always good to get on road with your team."
The Flyers are 2-3-1 on the road.
"I really think when you go on the road with the team for a week, you get closer with the guys," Giroux said. "You go to dinners, lunches, spend time [together]. I think when you do that, it can make you care for each other. I think being off the ice can be fun and to get a couple of wins would be fun too."
There have been a lot of F-words around this team this season, but "fun" hasn't been one of them. The losses, the coaching change, the irate owner, all of it has gnawed on the Flyers like a rat on a bag of trash.
Berube mentioned that Saturday's effort was the best he'd seen at home all season. Hartnell said it was nice not hearing boos from the paying customers.
Giroux has pledged that this team will make it to the playoffs, which seems as unlikely now as the Eagles being tied for the NFC East lead did 3 weeks ago.
One difference is that there will be no Nick Foles coming off the bench. The Flyers turnaround begins with Giroux outscoring the Jay Rosehills of the world and re-establishing himself as an elite NHL player.
"When everybody does their job, I think that's when we're going to win games," the Flyers captain said. "I'm aware that I have to be better offensively. And obviously I want to be responsible defensively, if I can bring more offense to the team, I'm going to do that."
Steve Downie skated with the squad yesterday, but Michael Raffl sat out with the flu.
Downie, still sporting a nasty shiner over his left eye, missed the last four games after sustaining a concussion during a fight with Washington heavyweight Aaron Volpatti. Acquired a day earlier from Colorado for Max Talbot, Downie played just 10 minutes, 24 seconds before getting injured in the Nov. 1 contest.
"I've been skating for 2 days now," Downie said yesterday. "The [conditioning] is coming. It's a slow process, but it's definitely coming."
Downie sustained the injury coming to the aid of Matt Read, who was checked by Volpatti. Yesterday, Downie was back skating alongside Read with Sean Couturier at center. Later in the day, the Flyers medical staff cleared Downie to rejoin the lineup for tonight's game.
Raffl missed practice, but was on the team's midafternoon charter to Ottawa. With three games in 4 days, the Flyers could use some depth. Problem is, Downie hardly knows his teammates and Raffl has just one assist in 11 contests.
Steve Mason had a scintillating flurry during practice where he stopped point-blank shots by Vinny Lecavalier, Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds during a three-on-none breakaway drill . . . Big smile on Matt Read's face yesterday. He picked up Riley Cooper in his fantasy football league. "First good thing I've done for my team all year," joked Read, who is 5-5 . . . The Flyers' next home game is Tuesday, Nov. 19 against Ottawa.
On Twitter: @EdBarkowitz