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Greenberg: Jake's back in the scoring race

by Jay Greenberg / Philadelphia Flyers

Asked if, when growing up in Kladno, he ever thought about someday winning an NHL scoring title, Jake Voracek said, “Don’t have to go back that far, I didn’t even imagine it last year.”

Every hockey player who ever made it to the NHL -- and the millions who didn’t -- fantasized Game 7 in their driveway, not being in a tuxedo at a podium in Las Vegas. Well, maybe Alexandre Daigle did, but you know what we mean.

Yet, after saying during a torrid October that he would talk about Art Ross Trophy possibilities after 55 games, then, after 55 games begging off for another 15, Voracek’s resolve to put up the biggest stonewall since Bernie Parent has wavered in the face of an exciting reality.

  • Voracek currently has a three-game point streak and has points in five of his last six games (1g-6a).

With seven contests remaining, the Flyers right wing is still right there, going into Thursday night’s games tied for the lead with the Islanders’ John Tavares and Penguins’ Sidney Crosby, with more of the usual suspects, like Alex Ovechkin and Nick Backstrom, nipping at the leaders’ heels.

This is the best race, albeit the slowest one, since expansion. The competition is almost as close as Jake has kept his cards to his vest about individual stuff, all the while he has continued to show the right stuff of real stardom.

“I think he is just playing hockey, trying to win games and produce for us like he should,” said Coach Craig Berube. “I don’t think he changes that mindset.”

You won’t catch Jake Voracek hanging at the red line, trying to win a scoring title. Oh, there is no more red line? Never mind.

Look, if more Flyers had Voracek’s mindset around the goal, they would still be in the race. There is nothing mutually exclusive about scoring and winning, particularly in an era where goals never have involved more teamwork. You need a passer, you need a screener, you need a deflector, you need practically to fill out paper work, then wait out an appeal to Toronto, just to go up 1-0.

This could be the first season since 1938-39, when Montreal’s Toe Blake had 47 points in 48 games, that the Ross Trophy winner manages less than one point per contest. The winner almost assuredly will have the lowest total since Martin St. Louis had 94 in 2003-04.

  • Voracek has not gone more than two games the entire season without posting at least a point, recording a point in 50 of 75 games.

Man, it’s hard to score. So it’s hard not to get excited about a potential first-ever Flyer Ross winner. Bobby Clarke (second to Guy Lafleur despite 119 points and a plus-83 rating in 1975-76) never did it. Neither did Eric Lindros, who in the 48-game 1995 season shortened by a strike, lost a tiebreaker to Jaromir Jagr on goals.

So, yeah, as the Feed Jake initiative builds, he realizes it would be feeding us a line to ignore any interest, although he is not going to get all Pavel Bure about it.

“I’m not going to say I wouldn’t like it,” Voracek said before Claude Giroux steered home Voracek’s point No. 74 in Wednesday night’s 4-1 win over the Blackhawks. “There are only a couple times you can win the scoring race.

“But if I started thinking about it I would have probably have one point in the next eight games.”

Hey, in this climate, one point in the next eight games just might win it.

Okay, maybe, two.

“Last couple games, me and G really played well together, created a lot of opportunities,” said Voracek. “So I will just try to enjoy, score as many goals as we can and help us win games.

“I don’t think my game changes. I will try to play good defense every shift, if it is going to come, it’s going to come.”

It’s been 47 seasons coming.

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