Giroux, Holtby and Muzzin on the outside looking in for Team Canada

Even in a limited role, Canada's Claude Giroux has made an impact at the World Cup. Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

TORONTO -- One guy has more points over the past five seasons combined than any player in the NHL -- more than Sidney Crosby, Patrick Kane or Alex Ovechkin over that span. The other guy tied the all-time single-season record for wins last season en route to a Vezina Trophy. The third has a Stanley Cup ring and was second only to Drew Doughty as a minutes-eater on his NHL club last season.

There they were Wednesday afternoon at Air Canada Centre, Claude Giroux, Braden Holtby and Jake Muzzin -- representing a combined $20 million in NHL salaries for the upcoming season -- getting in a skate on a day when the rest of Team Canada's lineup stayed off the ice on the eve of Game 2 of the World Cup of Hockey finals.

It is testimony, of course, to Team Canada's mind-blowing depth of talent that it can romp through this event without making those three guys regular members of the lineup.

Just as important, though, is how these star players have accepted their situation. Of course, it kills them not to play. They're born competitors.

But they're also cognizant of the need to put Team Canada first, and so they have.

"Obviously we all want to play," Giroux said Wednesday. "That's just in our blood. And we just want to see Team Canada win.''

Having just missed out on being picked for Canada's 2014 Sochi Olympic team, Giroux was absolutely jacked when he got the call this time around. During the team's pre-tournament camp in Ottawa you could practically see his eyes glow with excitement at the prospect of finally getting his shot.

The experience has still been positive, but appearing in just one tournament game isn't exactly what he had hoped for at the start.

"You dream of playing for Team Canada when you're a kid,'' Giroux said. "You must want to help your country win. Obviously you want to play. Everyone on this team has the attitude that they want to make a difference. They want to be out there to help the team win. It's tough. But I'm learning a lot and having a lot of fun here.''

Both Giroux and Muzzin were original roster members but have since been passed over for playing time by late-replacement additions in Ryan O'Reilly and Jay Bouwmeester, respectively.

But that again speaks to the remarkable depth and plethora of choices with which Team Canada head coach Mike Babcock is blessed.

"Obviously, you want to be out there. every guy wants to be out there,'' Muzzin said. "But when you're a scratch on one of the best teams in the world, I mean, it's an honor just to be here. It's a privilege to be here. You can't really be too angry. Yeah, I want to play and I want to show what I can do and play at this elite level and prove myself at this level, but at the same time our team is full of really, really good hockey players. That's just how it is.''

Holtby feels it might have been a little tougher on Giroux and Muzzin because, as he says, there are more moving parts in the lineup with forwards and defensemen. But as one of the team's three goalies, he had a pretty good sense going in that Carey Price would be the starter.

"It was probably easier for me because I was a little more prepared for it," Holtby said. "It's been good. It's been a challenge in some ways, but it's been fun.''

That Corey Crawford has been the backup ahead of Holtby was a mild surprise, just because of the Washington Capitals goalie's standout 2015-16 season. But then again, when you consider Crawford's Stanley Cup experience with the Chicago Blackhawks, it's kind of a toss-up.

"It's a pretty big honor just to be named to this team," Holtby said. "It's pretty much an all-star team. It's pretty cool that way. I think you're just proud to represent your country. You don't really question it. But you definitely gain a new perspective of guys back on your (NHL) team that are struggling to get into the lineup. It's a tough spot.''

Giroux, the Philadelphia Flyers captain, echoed the sentiment of having a better appreciation for the players who vie for a lineup spot back home.

"It helps you understand what guys go through when they're healthy scratches," Giroux said. "It's not the most fun thing. You just got to grind it out and hope for your chance. But being part of this team has been a blast.''

Giroux is a victim of being on a team loaded with star centers, some of which are Olympic holdovers. Still, this July 17 tweet on NHL point leaders from ESPN NHL analytics guru Rob Vollman underscores Giroux's accomplishment the past half-decade:

It's amazing that Giroux can be cast aside, but at the same time, it's not all that shocking when you look at the names on the lineup.

"The talent that's here is pretty surreal," Giroux said. "You can see every line is playing well right now -- how Canada finds a way to play a team game even when there's a lot of talent. A lot of guys that can take over a game. Everybody buys in, and it's one of the reasons Canada has been successful.''

Muzzin has just tried to soak in as much as he can from this dressing room of full of leaders and superstars.

"Seeing the guys in here and how they prepare and seeing the different things that they do, I mean, you learn so much from different guys," said the Los Angeles Kings blueliner. "And they learn things from you, it goes vice versa. You pick a coach's brain a little bit, you get a different view, you learn a lot. How can you not learn from this experience?''

A tough task for the three of them is trying to get as ready as possible for the NHL season which is just around the corner.

"That's kind of been the challenge, right?'' Muzzin said.

"It's strange, because we've been playing hockey for longer, but we're almost behind when we get back just because of the situation we're in," Holtby said. "But in preseason, it's not like you play every game. It's a new challenge, but there's still enough time to get ready for the season.''

All three will go home with memories nonetheless.

"The whole experience has been great, just being around the guys has been fun,'' Giroux said.

Only on Team Canada.