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Giroux meets with Laviolette about slump

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From Tim P

Claude Giroux sat down with coach Peter Laviolette on Friday. He admits that frustration has taken his game down.

“Last few games, I’m playing frustrated. I’m out of position because I want to do too much,” said Giroux, who has hit a wall with just two goals in his last 13 games.

“I think I got to relax. I had a meeting with Lavy today. Kind of talked about it. I think it’s good to put it behind you. This stretch of bad is going to make us stronger. Even if it’s not good, we got to look at it as a positive.”

He says there is nothing major bothering him on the ice.

“It’s little details,” he said. “Playing good defense, being in position. Playing frustrated is not the way to play it ... I like to put pressure on myself a little bit. It’s when I play my best.”

Since the 23-year-old centerman re-entered the Flyers lineup last month, coming back from a concussion, his offensive game has vanished.

His best performance in the 13 games since his return -- Dec. 21 at Dallas -- was a four-point game, but he has 11 points since returning.

“It’s just a matter of time,” Laviolette said. “His skill level is still there. His competitive nature is still there. Things will turn.”

Laviolette thought the meeting with Giroux went well.

“Generally speaking, about players and teams, negativity doesn’t help solve anything,” Laviolette said. “But yet we want to carry it … bring it with you.

“You’re irritated and agitated. Usually, it doesn’t do any good. You’re better off turning the page and taking a step forward and taking on the Devils [saturday].”

Recent history throughout the NHL has shown us that players coming back from a concussion almost always have an initial upswing in production and then taper off.

A factor to consider here is that linemate Jaromir Jagr missed two games with a groin injury and has not been the same since the month of January began.

Jagr is playing at less than 100 percent and given the fact he and Giroux feed off each other, if one player is hurting, the other’s offensive production is likely going to suffer as well.

Over the last four games, Giroux, who remains a viable candidate for the NHL scoring title, is minus-6, which is very unlike him.

Giroux says nothing is bothering him physically.

“You’re talking about somebody who has his success, not only through his skill level but his competitive nature,” Laviolette said.

“Sometimes when things don’t go your way, you compete harder. You’re bringing more on yourself. Sometimes, good advice is to continue to turn the page and let yesterday be yesterday. Have fun with tomorrow.

“I have a lot of confidence in Claude that he is going to be fine. It happens. Through the course of a season when a team doesn’t play exactly as it wants through a five-game segment or seven-game segment, I think the same holds true for players.”

Laviolette has been patient in not breaking up his line with Jagr and Scott Hartnell.

“Is there any temptation for me? No,” he said. “I’ve tried to be patient all year with the power play and lines and I will continue to do that.

“You start doing that when you don’t have confidence and start to believe there is no way out. That there’s a different answer coming than what they are dealing with. I do believe they have a talent and there is chemistry there.”

That was welcomed news for Giroux.

“I like my line,” Giroux said. “Obviously, the last few games haven’t been what we wanted to. Hopefully, we can turn it around soon.

“It’s good to play with the same players a long time. You kind of know what he is going do. We play a lot of good games together …”

That’s what the Flyers are counting on for the future, too.

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Here's some of a post from David Strehle. His post was 3x's longer than this. Click his name if you want to read all of it.

Some speculation as to what is / could be the reason(s) for the recent downturn in Giroux's play:

Could it be a lingering recovery period from a concussion he suffered when he took an accidental knee from teammate Wayne Simmondsto the back of the head during the second period of a 5-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on December 10?Giroux missed four games before exploding back into the Philly lineup on December 21 in Dallas. He made a near-miraculous return that night, scoring a goal and assisting on three others in just over 15 spectacular minutes of play. Giroux's play in Dallas seemed something of a proclamation that he was all the way back, just in time to keep his lead in the NHL scoring race in tact. He now stands eighth overall.

Could it be associated with the all-encompassing attention he has been receiving?The distractions surrounding the Winter Classic hype -- not only the sometimes circus-like atmosphere, but also HBO's "24/7" broadcasts, and all of the other sudden 'awareness' that came along with the spotlights and microscopes. And all the while, hockey experts fell in line in anointing Giroux as the League's next great thing, the poster boy and fresh new face of the NHL. It was just about that time he also made the decision to rejoin Twitter, the social networking forum that has become such a huge success in players and fans alike sharing their love of their sport, as well as other areas of life. The fact that his account blew up with 30,000 followers in just one day drew all sorts of publicity from national and international hockey outlets (like this, via our good friends at Broad Street Hockey). Now that things are back to normal and it's business as usual, maybe the everyday grind without all the glitz and glammer has seemed rather mundane.

Could it just be a slump?Every player goes through one during the course of the season, but the difference in Giroux's game from five weeks ago until now is dramatic. A night and day kind of comparison. He had not only been spectacular, Giroux had also been the model of consistency. Until the recent seven-game scoring slump, Giroux had only gone more than one game without a point just once all year, when he was held off the score sheet in two consecutive games back on November 9 (at Tampa Bay) and 13 (at Florida). In the midst of the last seven contests, he was shut out on January 7 and 8 (home-and-home with Ottawa), and January 10 (at Carolina), and has now failed to record a point in five of the last seven outings.

Could it be the Giroux Line has been thrown off kilter as a result of a groin injury sustained by Jaromir Jagr during the Winter Classic?The Scott Hartnell - Giroux - Jagr line was one of the hottest sets of attackers in the League for some time, but the decreased production of the trio seems to have coincided with Jagr's groin injury in the Classic. Since Jagr's injury, the line has appeared entirely out of sync, the magical chemistry exhibited between Giroux and Jagr hasn't made an appearance for several games. Hartnell has two goals in the last seven contests, and Jagr has three assists in his last six. It's possible a Giroux slump and Jagr injury, in tandem, could have this affect, but it cannot explain Giroux's difficulties handling the puck, even when unpressured.

Could it be that NHL coaches have recently altered their game plans when preparing their troops to play against the Flyers?There could be an argument as Giroux goes, so go the Flyers' offense. With centers Danny Briere and Brayden Schennstruggling to get anything going offensively, there is no doubt that extra attention is being paid to number 28. It's hard to believe that NHL coaches have all of a sudden made focusing on Giroux the concentration of their respective game plans. Already known as one of the top offensive threats on the Flyers for some time, it would stand to reason that stopping the G-force behind the orange storm would have already been one of the keys being drilled into opponent's heads prior to any matchup with Philadelphia.

Could it be that he's just frustrated?There is no question there is a frustration that comes from limited room with which to operate and decreasing time in which he is being afforded by opponents, coupled with any additional hits he may be taking as the target of being identified as the skater to stop. Some of that was on display Thursday night, when incessant hacking and whacking from Dylan Reeseled Giroux to retaliate. A late second period sequence culminated in a fight that carried over into the third, and the loss of Giroux and Reese to their respective clubs for five valuable minutes was a tradeoff in which the Isles were ecstatic to take.

Could it be that his play has just plain spoiled everyone? As regular observers of the NHL and specifically the Flyers, we have all come to expect the impossible from Giroux on a nightly basis. Maybe it's just when someone that has been compared to Superman shows they have the Clark Kent alter ego that comes along with it, it becomes more noticeable during those times. Especially for someone like Giroux, who could probably stickhandle in a phone booth. One problem could be that not only is he expected to be able to produce multiple point games every night, but also that he has to do so in a way that electrifies the crowd. If he's feeling increased pressure to put on a show, the best possible scenario would be for him to leave the skills show for the upcoming All-Star Game weekend, and just go back to the basics. When a team playing at home finds itself in a similar situation -- struggling to score goals because of a need to please the home fans with a picture-perfect passing play -- that is often cured with a return to simpler play when the club hits the road. Usually when the over-passing in hopes of setting up an open net goal stops and the team concentrates on just getting the puck to the net, the goals come naturally.

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