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Voracek shifts to left wing as Flyers face Hurricanes

by Adam Kimelman / NHL.com

HURRICANES (12-14-4) at FLYERS (12-12-6)

TV: CSN-PH, FS-CR

PHILADELPHIA -- Philadelphia Flyers forward Jakub Voracek, who has one goal in 30 games this season, will shift from right wing to left wing Tuesday against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Voracek is a left shot but said he's been a right wing going back to his childhood days in the Czech Republic. He tied for fourth in the League last season with 81 points.

This season though he has 16 points, including three in his past seven games. At this point Voracek is ready to try anything to rediscover his offensive touch, even if it means playing a position where he has almost no experience.

"It's going to be a little different for me," Voracek said. "But I'm excited for the change."

When asked what's different in moving from right wing to left, Voracek said, "Everything. Timing, you've got to open up for the [defenseman] differently on a different side. The only positive thing about it is that you have that [opposing defenseman] coming at you, you can … the puck is farther from him."

Voracek will play alongside center Sean Couturier and right wing Wayne Simmonds.

"Think me and Wayne are pretty excited to get the chance to play with Jake," Couturier said. "He's a great player. He's good with the puck, creates a lot of scoring chances. Hopefully we can get some good chemistry right away."

Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said he's confident Voracek will quickly find a comfort level on the left side.

"It's a little adjustment but he'll make that adjustment," he said. "It gives us a little bit of a different look. … For Jake it's a little bit different position, different spot for him. But it puts three big bodies on one line with [Couturier and Simmonds] in terms of puck possession and being a heavy line to play against."

As the Flyers look to generate more offense, goals are something that have come easy recently for the Hurricanes. They've scored at least five goals in four consecutive games. The last NHL team to do that was the New York Rangers from Feb. 10-16; the previous time the Hurricanes/Hartford Whalers franchise did it was March 1-7, 1987.

Hurricanes captain Eric Staal said the spark came Dec. 5 against the Montreal Canadiens when coach Bill Peters returned Staal to center, his natural position, with left wing Kris Versteeg and right wing Elias Lindholm.

In five games with Eric Staal, Jordan Staal and Victor Rask centering the top three lines, the Hurricanes are 4-1-0 and have scored 23 goals.

"The way that our lines have been set up right now, we're comfortable as a group of forwards in where each other is positioned and what's expected," Eric Staal said. "A lot of times it goes day-by-day, and where you're asked to play you do your best and work your hardest. That's been my mindset since the start of the year, doing what I've been asked to do. But it's a comfort as a player, the position you played your whole life, you feel more comfortable in and more confident in. For me personally, it's been good since that switchover.

"Now we've been getting some good contributions from the rest of our lineup too. … If it hasn't been our line it's been Rask's line. If it hasn't been Rask's line it's been Jordan's line, and [the fourth line] has clicked in a couple as well. It's a good balance, good feeling, and we've got to keep that swagger going."

Peters had alternated Eric Staal between center and left wing, and he's also used Lindholm in the middle at times. But the current arrangement is the best the Hurricanes have looked up front all season.

"It's a situation where we've tried different things and had mixed results," Peters said. "We were close in a lot of games, but a lot of low-scoring games. We thought it was going to break through the way we were doing it. Then we committed to making this change and what we've done since the change, we've stayed with it. We're not changing the lines a whole lot recently. Everyone has played hard and they deserve to stay in the lineup so there's no need to change the lines. We'll ride it as long as we can; hopefully for the foreseeable future."

Here are the projected lineups:

HURRICANES

Kris Versteeg - Eric Staal - Elias Lindholm

Joakim Nordstrom - Jordan Staal - Andrej Nestrasil

Jeff Skinner - Victor Rask - Phillip Di Giuseppe

Brad Malone - Jay McClement - Chris Terry

Ron Hainsey - Justin Faulk

John-Michael Liles - Brett Pesce

Noah Hanifin - Jaccob Slavin

Eddie Lack

Cam Ward

Injured: Nathan Gerbe (ankle), James Wisniewski (knee)

Scratched: Riley Nash

FLYERS

Michael Raffl - Claude Giroux - Brayden Schenn

Jakub Voracek - Sean Couturier - Wayne Simmonds

Chris VandeVelde - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Ryan White

Matt Read - Scott Laughton - R.J. Umberger

Michael Del Zotto - Radko Gudas

Nick Schultz - Evgeny Medvedev

Brandon Manning - Shayne Gostisbehere

Michal Neuvirth

Steve Mason

Injured: Mark Streit (groin), Sam Gagner (upper body), Luke Schenn (lower body)

Scratched: Vincent Lecavalier

Status report: Lack will start in goal for the third straight game. … Neuvirth will start in goal for the third straight game. He's allowed four goals on 96 shots in his past three games. … Voracek's shift to the Couturier line bumped Read to the fourth line with Laughton and Umberger.

Who's hot: Skinner has six goals and one assist in his past five games. … Giroux has three goals and six assists in his past six games.

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