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Voracek records career-best week to spark Flyers

by John Kreiser

Philadelphia's Jakub Voracek just completed the best week of his five-year NHL career.

Voracek put up 11 points in the Flyers' first 16 games -- then matched that total in just four games last week as Philadelphia's offense piled up 18 goals.

The 23-year-old started by setting up four goals in Philadelphia's 7-0 road win against the New York Islanders, then showed his shooting touch by scoring three goals -- including the game-winner -- in a 6-5 win at Pittsburgh. He added a goal the next night against Florida and capped the week with three more assists in Saturday's 5-3 win against Winnipeg.

Philadelphia forward Jakub Voracek put up 11 points in the Flyers' first 16 games -- then matched that total in just four games last week as their offense piled up 18 goals. (Photo: Mike Stobe/NHLI)

With 22 points in 20 games, Voracek is on pace to exceed his career-best of 50 points -- even though this season is only 48 games.

Five up -- Five other players who had a good week:

Steven Stamkos -- Stamkos won't repeat last season's 60-goal performance because of the abbreviated schedule, but his scoring touch is as good as ever. Stamkos had goals in each of Tampa Bay's four games last week and finished with eight points, moving him into first place in the League scoring race, and has goals in his past five games.

Ray Emery -- Emery has had a big hand in Chicago's season-opening streak of 18 games in which the Blackhawks have at least one point. He went 3-0-0 last week while allowing just six goals and is 7-0-0 so far this season with a 2.10 goals-against average and a save percentage of .930.

Claude Giroux -- Voracek wasn't the only Flyer to have a big week. While Wayne Simmonds put up two Gordie Howe Hat Tricks, Giroux scored three goals and set up five more for an eight-point week.

Jonathan Quick -- For the first time this season, Quick looked like the goaltender who led the Los Angeles Kings to the Stanley Cup last spring. Quick won both of his decisions this past week and allowed just one goal in each game.

Niklas Kronwall -- With Nicklas Lidstrom retired, Kronwall is being asked to do more on Detroit's blue line. He responded with back-to-back three-point games on Saturday and Sunday as the Red Wings scored 12 goals in consecutive victories.

Five down -- Five players who didn't:

Ryan Miller -- The 2010 Vezina Trophy winner is struggling along with the rest of his teammates in Buffalo. He allowed nine goals in losing all three of his starts this past week and has lost six of his last seven games.

Michal Handzus -- San Jose has suffered from a lack of secondary scoring, and Handzus is one of the culprits. He's gone seven games without generating a point and has hit the score sheet just once in 17 games.

Ryan Miller
Goalie - BUF
RECORD: 6-10-1
GAA: 2.94 | SVP: 0.913
Kyle Wellwood After a career-best 47 points last season, Wellwood's scoring touch has deserted him. He's gone pointless in his past six games for Winnipeg before being a healthy scratch on Sunday and has just two points in 15 games.

Marcel Goc -- The 29-year-old forward's ice time has been going up even as his offensive production has stalled. He's gone without a point in six games, during which he's minus-5, but has played more than 18 minutes in each of Florida's past three games.

Johan Hedberg -- After allowing just two goals in his first three starts with New Jersey this season. Hedberg surrendered 14 in the next three, including nine in back-to-back losses this past weekend.

The week ahead -- While both New York teams spend the week at home and the San Jose Sharks return to the Bay area after a long trip, the Edmonton Oilers begin the longest journey of any team of the season. The Oilers play the first four games of a nine-game trip that will keep them away from Rexall Place for nearly three weeks. The Oilers are one of 11 teams that play four games this week, but they are the only one that plays all four on the road.

Games to watch:

Dallas at Nashville (Feb. 25; NBCSN) -- The Predators are back home to host Dallas before heading out for a three-game trip to California.

Boston at New York Islanders (Feb. 26; NBCSN) -- The Islanders, who've lost seven of nine at the Nassau Coliseum this season, will have a tough time improving that total against the powerful Bruins.

Alex Ovechkin
Left Wing - WSH
GOALS: 8 | ASST: 6 | PTS: 14
SOG: 75 | +/-: -6
Washington at Philadelphia and Los Angeles at Detroit (Feb. 27; NBCSN/TSN2) -- For the second week in a row, Wednesday Night Rivalry presented by Coors Light offers a doubleheader. In the opener, the Flyers will try to slow down Alex Ovechkin -- something they've had little success doing during Ovi's career. The Wings and Kings meet in the second game, a rematch of Detroit's 3-2 win at home 17 days earlier in which the Red Wings won in the final seconds.

Pittsburgh at Carolina (Feb. 28; NHLN-US) -- The Hurricanes try to end a three-game losing streak to the Penguins.

Columbus at Chicago (March 1; NHLN-US) -- The Blue Jackets are back at United Center, where they lost 1-0 on Sunday as Chicago extended its season-opening streak of getting at least one point to 18 games.

Ottawa at Philadelphia (March 2; NHLN-US) -- The Senators and Flyers kick off a quadruple-header for U.S. viewers on the NHL Network; they're followed by Washington at Winnipeg, Pittsburgh at Montreal and Los Angeles at Vancouver.

Chicago at Detroit (March 3; NBC/NHLN-Canada) -- The Blackhawks have won the last four meeting against their Central Division rivals, including a 2-1 overtime victory early in their points streak.

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