Claude Giroux slowly working back to full strength with Flyers

Giroux’s health will be key for the Flyers as the season starts. Credit: Getty Images Giroux’s health will be key for the Flyers as the season starts. Credit: Getty Images

The Philadelphia Flyers have used a mixture of players from the varsity and JV squads during their first six preseason games.

On Tuesday night against the Rangers, the varsity team got its first crack together.

Save for Ray Emery in net for Steve Mason and Sam Morin on defense in lieu of Andrew McDonald as well as a couple of players battling for the final two spots on the fourth line, the Flyers got their first glimpse of what the team – and offensive line formations – will probably look like for the season opener next Wednesday against Boston.

Claude Giroux played in his first preseason game, a 4-2 Flyers’ victory, since suffering a lower-body injury in the first 15 minutes of practice on the first day of training camp. He centered last year’s linemate Jake Voracek and newcomer to the top line Brayden Schenn, who appears headed to fill Scott Hartnell’s vacancy to start the year.

Giroux admitted he was rusty and even felt “lost and didn’t know what was going on” in the first period but the line still generated a handful of scoring chances.

“We are starting to know how we can play together,” said Giroux, who played nearly 17 minutes. “It’s going to take a couple games – we know that – but the faster we can get it going the better it is for our team.”

The line that stood out was Sean Couturier between Wayne Simmonds and Matt Read, which finished with six points. After spending the preseason working out the kinks, the trio is starting to develop a rhythm.

“I think you just have to get into the swing of things,” Simmonds said. “Your timing is not there and you are half a second off here and half a second off there – I felt that in the first couple of games. But (Tuesday) I felt we were supporting each other more. And we got things done.”

So did the fourth line of center Pierre-Edouard Bellemare with Zac Rinaldo and Jason Akeson – although only Rinaldo is assured a roster spot. Still, Bellemare and Akeson did nothing to hurt their chances.

Meanwhile, the Vinny Lecavlier, R.J. Umberger and Michael Raffl line was mostly ineffective.

For an even more accurate look at the varsity team, check out Thursday’s preseason finale at Washington.

“We are going to do our best to get the full lineup in there,” head coach Craig Berube said.