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Expectations high for playoff-tested Giroux

Claude Giroux was a rookie in his first playoff series back in 2008-09 when John Stevens’ Flyers lost to Pittsburgh in six games.

This will be Giroux’s fifth playoff season as a Flyer.

The playoff expectations from that first year, where no one knew what to expect from him, till now, where he is coming off an 86-point season and expected to carry the Flyers in the playoffs, are tremendous.

Giroux doesn’t feel the pressure that this series with the Rangers is any different from before.

“The intensity goes up,” he said. “Just the build-up to each game. You go into the game and every play is huge. One turnover can cost you the game. One game can cost you a series. We got to be responsible here.

“This time of year you want to be playing and playing your best. We’re a young team with a lot of energy and attitude. We have to bring that to New York.”

Jakub Voracek had two career-highs this season -- 23 goals and 62 points. As with Giroux, this is another evolutionary step for Voracek once the playoffs begin. His playoff debut with Columbus came that same 2009 spring.

“Yeah, of course, two years ago when we made the playoffs we scored a lot of goals,” Voracek recalled. “Every time I play a playoff game I feel comfortable and confident.

“I always want to make a difference in the game and I think that’s what makes a difference for me. Hopefully, I have an impact on the series.”

He says he sees a big change now from his very first playoffs.

“I’m more experienced now,” Voracek said. “I have 450 games under my belt. You look at things differently than you used to. I’m 24 now and 19 back in the day. Experience plays a huge part. When you're forced to play more, you try to keep it simpler in the playoffs. Any mistake can cost you a game.”

Back in 1997 when the Flyers last played the Rangers in a playoff series -- the Eastern Conference title -- captain Eric Lindros sat down with his close friend and linemate, John LeClair, to review in intricate detail everything about the Mark Messier-led Rangers.

The Flyers destroyed them in five games.

Giroux is not a vocal guy, but Voracek said he expected their line with Scott Hartnell will meet on the side and talk about this series.

‘We always do,” Voracek said. “We hang out together off the ice. All the time. He’s a born winner. He always wants to make a difference in the game. We already had some time to talk with each other and Hartsy as a line.

“We can be game-changers. We know we’re going to play a lot of minutes against the best D-man in [Ryan] McDonagh. We got to make sure we keep it simple. He is a very good defenseman.”

Giroux said it may surprise people to learn that their line does a lot of yelling at each other as a form of “communicating,” but all in good nature.

“Our line is pretty good at communicating,” Giroux said. “Our line is more about yelling at each other. I think that is part of our relationship with me and Jake and Hartsy. We have a lot of passion and love playing for each other. When we have fun out there, that is when we play our best.”

They will have to be at their best in this series. The Flyers finished the regular season 21-2-1 when Giroux scored a goal and 33-15-4 when he scored at least one point.

Obviously, as his line goes, so goes the Flyers' chances in the series, regardless of the fact there are four other 20-goal or more scorers outside of that top line.

Giroux said this team has a lot to atone for from not making the playoffs last season.

“With last year, not making it, we fought back this year by making it and we got to build on it and enjoy it,” Giroux said. “You look at 2010, we made it on the last game of the season and this is kinda the same story.

“This year, we had momentum at the end of the season and feeling good about our game. We’re aware that New York is a really good team, one of the best in the league. If we’re going to win the series, we have to bring our best game.

“It’s gonna be fast. They are really good offensively and have goal scorers who can make plays. Their D jump up on the rush and their goaltending is huge on both teams. Just talking about it right now, I get pretty excited.”

Puck drops for Game 1 on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.