VOORHEES, N.J. – It’s nice to know that the rest of the hockey world is taking notice of Jake Voracek too.
He’s been a rock star in Philadelphia this season, leading the Flyers in scoring (7-15-22) and moving into the top 10 (t-9th) in the NHL.
And because he did something last week that hadn’t been done by a Flyer in eight years – specifically score 11 points in four consecutive games – he was recognized by the league as the NHL’s first star of the week.
As a matter of fact, Voracek, whose career-high in points is 50 – in an 81-game season, is on pace for 53 points – in a 48 game season.
That’s, what you call, a breakout season.
For his part, Voracek didn’t even know he was named first star until he was told by a throng of reporters after the morning skate Monday.
“It’s good news,” he said. “I feel pretty good. We’re scoring a lot of important goals with me playing with [Claude Giroux] and now [Scott Hartnell]. I feel like I’ve been playing good the last few weeks. Everything is clicking.”
And it has.
From the NHL press release:
Voracek, 23, led all skaters in points (4-7—11) and assists as the Flyers won three of four games. He opened the week with the first four-point game of his career (0-4—4) in a 7-0 win over the New York Islanders Feb. 18 and recorded his first career hat trick, including the game-winner with 1:31 remaining in regulation, in a 6-5 victory at Pittsburgh Feb. 20. Voracek scored his seventh goal of the season in a 5-2 loss to the Florida Panthers Feb. 21 and capped the week with three assists in a 5-3 triumph over the Winnipeg Jets Feb. 23. The Kladno, Czech Republic, native has points in five straight games (4-8—12) and leads the Flyers in goals (seven), assists
(15) and points (22) this season. Now in his fifth NHL campaign, the 23-year-old Voracek has 64-141—205 in 339 career games.
“It’s well-deserved for him,” coach Peter Laviolette said of the honor. “He’s putting up a lot of points right now. I think just based on the way he’s playing it’s well-deserved. He’s moving really well out there. He seems quick and fast. He’s found some consistency with Claude as well. Claude seems to bring that out in people.”
Giroux was gently ribbing Voracek when he heard the news, suggesting a fine in kangaroo court because of the honor. But when all the jokes were aside (including Max Talbot responding to a question asking Voracek what changed from last year by saying, “He doesn’t have to play on a line with me anymore,”) Giroux had high praise for his new linemate.
“He’s playing great ad I’m the lucky one who gets to play with him,” Giroux said. “We’ve had some good chemistry the last few games and we’re having a lot of fun playing together. He’s a fast player and he’s strong on the puck and he’s fun to be around.”
Tonight marks the return to Philadelphia of James van Riemsdyk, who has blossomed in Toronto after the trade that sent him there last summer for Luke Schenn.
Van Riemsdyk is sixth in the NHL in goals with 11 through the first 19 games for the Maple Leafs.
Giroux, who is one of van Riemsdyk’s closest friends from his time in Philadelphia, said it’s weird seeing him in a Toronto jersey, but that he planned on welcoming JVR back in a classic Philadelphia manner:
“I’ll have to slash him a little bit to let him know I’m there,” Giroux said. “But he’s a great guy and I have a lot of respect for him on the ice because he’s a great player and it’s fun to play against him.”
Andrej Meszaros practiced with the team today, but said he wasn’t sure the 7-10 day time frame general manager Paul Holmgren suggested last Thursday fr his return from a dislocated shoulder was accurate.
“I’m not feeling great,” Meszaros said. “I’ve been skating and practicing, but there have been no battle drills so I haven’t done that yet. I’ll go see the doctor this week and we’ll go from there.”
Meszaros added that his shooting has not improved and that he’s going to switch sticks to try to help with pain management.
“I hope it’s [7-10] days, but you don’t want to push your injury and come back too soon because then if it happens again you’ll be out for awhile,” Meszaros said. “I’m going to try to stay positive, work on it and try to get back as soon as possible.”
In other injury news:
Tom Sestito is out of the lineup indefinitely with a charley horse. Sounds mild? You should have seen him after the game Friday. He was in such pain he couldn’t put weight on his leg.
Michael Leighton continues to practice as he is recovering from a badly bruised ring finger. His return date has not been defined as of yet by the Flyers.
You might have forgotten about Ben Holmstrom, but he was out skating with the Flyers reserves today. That’s pretty impressive considering he had a serious knee injury just three months ago.
Speaking of the reserves, Harry Zolnierczyk and Kurtis Foster practiced with those injured guys, which suggests the same lineup as Saturday against Winnipeg will be on the ice tonight against Toronto.
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