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X-Factor: Jakub Voracek needs A game for Flyers

Philadelphia forward says he can be difference-maker

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / Deputy Managing Editor

Philadelphia Flyers forward Jakub Voracek recently said he wanted to be a difference-maker during the push to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

If the Flyers are to have any hope of winning their first Cup since 1975, Voracek will have to continue to make a difference.

Voracek was fourth in the League in scoring last season with 81 points (22 goals, 59 assists), but never found that same footing this season. He scored one goal in his first 30 games and said that he was pressing to produce.

Coach Dave Hakstol shifted him to left wing prior to a game against the Carolina Hurricanes on Dec. 15. Voracek is a left-handed shot and said he never had played the position. But at that point he was willing to try anything.

Video: PHI@PIT: Voracek redirects the puck past Murray

"It's going to be a little different for me," he said the morning before the game. "But I'm excited for the change. It'll be different."

It also worked.

Voracek had a goal and two assists against the Hurricanes and had points in five straight games in his new position. In 29 games between Dec. 15 and Feb. 25, he had 31 points (nine goals, 22 assists) in 29 games, the seventh-most points in the League during that span.

On Feb. 25 against the Minnesota Wild, Voracek sustained an injury to his left foot that sidelined him for nine games. When he returned he was back at right wing, but wasn't the same player, scoring two points in the first seven games.

He has picked it up a bit recently, with one goal and three assists in his past five games. Back at left wing, he had a beautiful primary assist on Philadelphia's first goal Saturday against the Pittsburgh Penguins, which got the Flyers started on their playoff berth-clinching victory.

Video: PHI@TOR: Voracek finishes a two-on-one chance

"To be a difference-maker, it's going to be at one or two different points of a game," Hakstol said. "You're not going to go out and dominate every shift."

The Flyers don't need Voracek to do that. But when he's at his best, he uses his speed to fly up and down the wing and his strength to control the puck in the offensive zone. The inability to push off with his injured left foot has affected his skating, but Voracek said his hands are more of a problem. His 5.2 shooting percentage, the lowest of his NHL career, also hasn't helped.

Voracek has played well for long stretches recently, but the Flyers need more from him if they're going to be successful in the postseason.

"I think he's got another level to get to yet," Hakstol said. "Hopefully he'll keep pushing toward that."

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