“I Do Believe He Can Play Better,” Says Alain Vigneault, While Clarifying Claude Giroux ‘Conditioning’ Comments

© Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve understandably done a ton of Eagles stories today, but now it’s time to argue about Claude Giroux.

He didn’t have a great bubble experience, scoring just one goal over 16 games while contributing seven assists and participating in a power play unit that really struggled throughout.

One of the damning statistics that was repeated ad nauseam was the fact that G only has four playoff goals in five series dating back to 2014, when he was 26 years old. Prior to that, he had bagged 21 goals in nine playoff series that took place in the first half of his Flyers career.

Alain Vigneault was asked about Giroux in his season-ending press conference, and it’s always interesting to hear AV on the Giroux and Jake Voracek topic, since he’s been a little more open with critique of his veterans throughout the season.

Two quotes on this first, to set up the third quote:

Q: Do you agree with Chuck Fletcher’s disappointment in the defensive lapses during the playoffs? How much of that was offensively versus what your opponents were doing?

AV: “The fact that we had quite a few guys that were pressing offensively led them to make low-percentage plays, which led to turnovers, which led to us not looking as fast as we can be and those turnovers led to good scoring opportunities to the opposition, which I think we did a pretty good job during the regular season staying away from. There’s no doubt that I agree with Chuck that that was part of our game because some of our guys were pressing, they weren’t sticking to what works and that led to obviously great opportunities for the other team. Those are all areas that I want to talk to the team, that I want to talk to individual players about, that I’m sure we can fix in the coming future.”

Q: Of all the top line players that struggled in the postseason, was Claude Giroux’s struggles the case of pressing or is it a concern that given his age and that he is on the shorter side of what he can offer to the Flyers in the future?

AV: “There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind about his will to be successful and his will to help his teammates. I do agree that he is getting older. He’s got an opportunity right now since we’re in pause, the whole world is in pause, to take these next months and really work at his conditioning and probably find the time to slow time. He’s getting older. As you get older, the muscles don’t react as quick, but you can work on that. He’s going to put in a lot of time and effort. I do believe that there’s some areas that having gone through with Claude this first playoffs, I do believe there’s some areas where I could help him with where he could perform better.”

“I need to see him face to face and sit down. I haven’t had that opportunity. He’s one of those guys that because we are in the same region that I will be able to talk to in the next while face to face. I need to talk to him in person. Obviously the comments that I’m going to have with him and that he’s going to have with me are going to be on a personal level, so we’re not going to share that, but I can tell you, on the record, very directly, that I do believe he can play better. He can perform better, and knowing Claude, he’ll put in the time and effort to do it.”

It’s a little strange that they didn’t do exit interviews, but that’s the nature of COVID-19. Guys just went home instead of coming back to Philadelphia to go through the typical process.

At this point in the media session, Anthony asked a follow up on the conditioning topic, which Vigneault then used to clarify his original point:

Ant San: You made mention of Claude needing more conditioning, being better conditioned. Just out of curiosity, do you think conditioning for the entire team was different? Not necessarily worse, or better, but different once you came back from where you were pre-pause?

AV: “I’m not sure what you heard from my end (because of the audio issues), but Claude and conditioning – he’s an individual who takes tremendous care of himself physically. I think right now because he’s getting older, and Jake Voracek is getting older, and JVR is getting older – life is life, and as you get older, it catches up to you. So they have to spend more time, maybe find new ways to slow the natural evolution we all go through. That’s what I’m trying to say. There’s a way for him to try and slow what happens to all of us as we get older.”

“If I understood the second part of the question, because of the COVID situation and because of the halt, players were privileged to different ways to train, depending on where you were. Everything was shut down. The gyms were shut down. Obviously when we got the players back, we had a short amount of time to get everybody going the best way that we could, depending on what they have done. Once you start playing, and I think we played 17 games in 30 days, its play, play, play. It’s hard to work on that aspect. I don’t think we were any different than anybody else. I have heard that some teams were able to do more during the COVID shutdown than maybe our guys were because of the facilities they had available to them. That’s what it was for everybody. You have to deal with it. It was a learning experience for everyone, and now we’re going to get ready for next year. I can guarantee you, with what we all learned, we’re going to put the pieces together to challenge for that Cup.”

This all makes sense. Father time is undefeated. AV is not saying that Giroux is lazy and fat slob, he’s just saying that the body changes as you get older, and therefore you might have to take a different approach to conditioning and keeping yourself in top shape. Look at all of the stuff Tom Brady does with exercise and diet and whatnot. It kept him going into his forties.

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