Life has been very good to Philadelphia Flyers right wing Jakub Voracek lately.
The Flyers have won nine in a row, their longest winning streak since April 2-22, 1995, and Voracek has 15 points (four goals, 11 assists) during the streak. His 32 points are tied for second in the NHL. Voracek was named NHL First Star for the week ending Dec. 11 after his six assists and nine points in four games led the League.
Of course, all of that is of secondary importance to Voracek after his son, Jakub Jr., was born Nov. 17.
"It changes your life," Voracek said of being a first-time father. "Everybody who experiences it can tell you the same thing. It's just a completely different life."
Video: EDM@PHI: Voracek blasts one-timer for PPG in 3rd
It's not just about changing diapers and fitting in some sleep with a newborn baby at home. Voracek said his girlfriend, Nicole, has been very helpful with the latter on the nights before games, so he's been well-rested when he's on the ice. His parents arrived last week and will be staying through Dec. 27, so they're helping out as well.
But becoming a father has provided perspective for the 27-year-old on and off the ice.
"I don't think you make a big deal out of the little things," he said. "When you know you are going to come home and you have a healthy son, that's the most important thing in your life right now. That's probably the point of view of life."
So even though the Flyers were stumbling along at 9-10-3 and Voracek didn't have a point in six consecutive games before the nine-game winning streak began, he was able to appreciate what he had waiting for him at home. And now that he and the Flyers are playing their best hockey, he understands there's still plenty of work ahead.
"We have a tough schedule," he said. "We have a lot of games coming before Christmas so we need to pile up the points. Obviously, it's going to happen during the season when you're not going to play your best, but you still have to find a way to get points. I think we just have to keep it simple. It's kind of a hockey cliche, which I don't like to use very often, but if you don't feel well during the game as an individual or a team, you have to play the game with a style that you can grind out some points."
After not scoring a goal in his first 16 games last season and finishing with 11 goals and 55 points in 73 games, Voracek already has equaled his 2015-16 goal total and is on pace for personal NHL career highs of 29 goals and 85 points. He attributes his better start to confidence after playing for Team Czech Republic at the World Cup of Hockey 2016.
"I had a stretch last season after those first 15 games, I kind of picked it up and I was the kind of player I am right now, a point-a-game player, for about 45 games," Voracek said. "Then I got hurt so I kind of backtracked a bit. But I know what I'm capable of when I feel good and when I feel confident."
Now Voracek is looking forward to the battle ahead in a highly competitive Metropolitan Division, and Jakub Jr.'s first Christmas.
"I'm sure he'll get a lot [of presents]," Voracek said. "He'll probably get more than me, which I don't like, but I'm going to have to get used that, I think. … It's been an exciting last few months and I'm very excited for the months ahead."
Video: Larmer honored in Chicago, Vrana records first goal
Sleepless (and happy) in Prague
With a six-hour time difference from the Czech Republic to the Eastern time zone, Jakub Vrana's parents have been pretty tired since the 20-year-old right wing was recalled by the Washington Capitals on Dec. 1. Vrana's mom, Jana, and father, Karel, have stayed up late in Prague to watch his first six NHL games on the internet.
"Because there's a game every second day and they watch every game, they're not sleeping," Vrana said. "Obviously, I'm happy to see them happy."
Vrana's parents particularly were happy after seeing him score his first NHL goal in a 4-1 win against the Buffalo Sabres on Friday. That power-play goal also turned out to be the game-winner.
"They were watching," Vrana said. "They were very excited."
Vrana's parents, obviously, didn't want to miss his first goal but they're not planning to stop watching now that he's scored it.
"We'll see how it's going to go in the future, but they will watch every game," Vrana said. "They watched every game when I played in Hershey (of American Hockey League) too, so it doesn't matter."
At least the Capitals' game against the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday started at 5 p.m. ET, which is 11 p.m. in Prague.
"Those two hours help," Vrana said.
Video: NYI@CBJ: Bobrovsky uses pad to deny de Haan, Prince
Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky is tied with Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens for the League lead with 16 wins and has surpassed his total of 15 last season. Bobrovsky is 6-0-1 with a 1.56 goals-against average and .939 save percentage in his past seven games. … Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins is on an eight-game point streak (seven goals, six assists). … Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals scored his fifth game-winning goal this season in a 3-0 win against the Canucks on Sunday, the 93rd of his NHL career. Ovechkin is tied with John Bucyk, Sergei Fedorov and Joe Nieuwendyk for 13th in NHL history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. It also was Ovechkin's 200th power-play goal, making him the 18th NHL player to reach that milestone.
Games to watch
Chicago Blackhawks at New York Rangers (Dec. 13, 7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports, MSG2, CSN-CH, NHL.TV) -- The Blackhawks and the Rangers play for the second time in five days. The Rangers, who entered the week tied for first place with the Canadiens (41 points) in the League standings, defeated the Blackhawks 1-0 in overtime at United Center on Friday.
Boston Bruins at Pittsburgh Penguins (Dec. 14, 7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, NHL.TV) -- The Wednesday Night Rivalry game features a matchup of the two top goal-scorers in the NHL. Crosby's 21 goals lead the League, and Bruins right wing David Pastrnak is second with 18.
Montreal Canadiens at Washington Capitals (Dec. 17, 7 p.m. ET; NHLN, CITY, TVA Sports, CSN-DC, NHL.TV) -- Price, the 2014-15 Vezina Trophy winner and the early favorite to win it this season, takes on the Capitals and 2015-16 Vezina winner Braden Holtby.
New York Rangers at Pittsburgh Penguins (Dec. 20, 7 p.m. ET; ROOT, MSG 2, NHL.TV) -- It is the third game between the Penguins and Rangers this season. New York defeated Pittsburgh 5-2 at PPG Paints Arena on Nov. 21, and the Penguins defeated the Rangers 6-1 at Madison Square Garden two nights later.
Washington Capitals at Philadelphia Flyers (Dec. 21, 8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports, NHL.TV) -- The Capitals and the Flyers play for the first time since the Capitals' six-game win in the Eastern Conference First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season.