Welcome back, Cap — Giroux pumped to return after bout with COVID-19


VOORHEES, N.J. — Claude Giroux exuded the energy of a youngster just happy to be on the ice with his friends.

He was one of the first skaters to take the practice ice Tuesday at Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone.

He missed it.

"He certainly looked pumped up to be back out there with us," James van Riemsdyk said.

Giroux was out an NHL-mandated 14 days after he tested positive for the coronavirus Feb. 9.

"For a few days there, I had it pretty bad," Giroux said Tuesday. "But after three, four days, I felt pretty good and I feel great now."

Because of COVID-19, Giroux saw his ironman streak of 328 consecutive games played come to an end. He ended up missing consecutive games for the first time since Feb. 20-25, 2016. The Flyers have gone 0-1-1 without Giroux and five other regulars.

"I don't remember the last time I watched the Flyers play at home," Giroux said. "It wasn't that fun. You want to be out there and help the team."

Head coach Alain Vigneault said Giroux will skate Wednesday morning and the Flyers will evaluate how the captain feels for the team's home game that night against the Rangers (7 p.m. ET/NBCSN). It would be surprising if Giroux does not play Wednesday night.

"He looked good even though this was his first time on the ice," Vigneault said. "He looked like he had a lot of pop."

Giroux, who had to quarantine away from his wife Ryanne and 1-year-old son Gavin, said he feels strong enough to play Wednesday.

"I feel good, practice today was good, it was good pace," Giroux said. "To get back on the ice, it was fun. It's been a while since I've seen my teammates. Today it felt like first day of camp or something, so today was a good day."

Jakub Voracek, Travis Konecny, Oskar Lindblom, Scott Laughton and Justin Braun remained out Tuesday. They were all on the NHL's COVID protocol list Tuesday night. Braun, who went on the COVID protocol list the same day as Giroux, is expected to skate Wednesday but won't play against the Rangers that night (more here on the five players still out).

Lindblom went on the COVID protocol list Feb. 12. He was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma in December 2019 and completed his radiation treatments last July, when he was deemed without evidence of cancer. The 24-year-old has remained cancer-free, appearing in a pair of 2020 playoff games and playing in the club's first 13 regular-season games this year before missing the last two because of COVID protocol.

"Oskar's feeling fine," Vigneault said. "I think Oskar initially had mild symptoms but he's feeling fine. I think he's a few days away from being able to come down and start to work out and skate.

"All the players — I'm not allowed to say if they had COVID or not — that were on the list, everyone as far as I know is feeling extremely well."

Taxi squad players Carsen Twarynski and Alex Lyon, who had been unavailable recently because of COVID protocol, also returned to practice Tuesday.

In practice, Giroux was on a line with Kevin Hayes down the middle and Nolan Patrick along the right wing.

Here were the Flyers' combinations at forward:

James van Riemsdyk-Sean Couturier-Joel Farabee

Claude Giroux-Kevin Hayes-Nolan Patrick

Michael Raffl-Connor Bunnaman-Nicolas Aube-Kubel

Carsen Twarynski-Andy Andreoff-Maksim Sushko/Samuel Morin

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