It has taken longer than expected but nevertheless, we are finally beginning to talk about Jakub Voracek. The young Philadelphia Flyer forward has been on an absolute terror as of late and has notched 12 points in his past five games. The 23 year old now has 22 points in 20 games so far this season and is now 6th in the NHL in points. The Flyers leading scorer has elevated his game to a whole new level and it is significantly helping the team overcome its brutal start.
When the going gets rough, someone needs to step up and take control. The Flyers were having extreme difficulties putting the puck in the net and nothing seemed to be clicking. Captain Claude Giroux was struggling and the chemistry seemed out of line. Injuries were occurring frequently to offensive contributors such as Wayne Simmonds, Daniel Briere, Scott Hartnell, and the most recent Matt Read. If Giroux wasn’t going to be the one to turn things around, somebody else would need to take a stand.
Voracek didn’t begin the season in the most promising way. He only managed 4 points in his first 9 games and didn’t look like the motivated individual from the 2012 playoffs who notched 10 points in 11 playoff games. Much was expected of the Giroux, Hartnell, Voracek top line heading into the season but they just didn’t seem to click. It wasn’t as if anybody was really clicking though as the Flyers went through a horrendous start to the season
The Flyers have begun to turn their season around and Voracek has been a key aspect. He has come through at clutch moments and helped inject life to a team desperately in need. The Flyers game this past Wednesday against the Pittsburgh Penguins was a prime example as the team was facing its biggest rival and one of the best clubs in the league. Voracek came through like never before with a clutch hat trick that propelled the team to victory. He did it in a timely fashion as he notched the game winning goal with a minute and a half remaining in regulation. It is a performance like that which ignites an entire team and gets them motivated.
There was a lot of speculation in the off-season to who would replace the offense provided by JVR and Jaromir Jagr. At the start of the season, it looked like the Flyers might have trouble scoring but now goals are coming from everywhere. Jakub Voracek has just been one of many young stars who have elevated their game this season. Brayden Schenn, Matt Read, and Wayne Simmonds are all contributing immensely right now and it is making the Flyers climb up in the standings.
The power-play had been a disaster at the start of the season but now it is back to being one of the most feared in the NHL. Voracek is a prime reason for that as he helps anchor the top unit. He dished out three power-play assists in the Flyers 5-3 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday. Scott Hartnell returned to the line-up on Saturday and it is hoped that the first line of Hartnell, Giroux, and Voracek can be a key offensive threat. With the absence of Jagr, Giroux was struggling a little bit but since Voracek’s terror, Giroux has been putting up the points on a nightly basis. The captain is currently riding a 4 game point streak and will look to continue that against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday.
The real question though is why has it taken so long for us to talk about Voracek? So much was expected out of him when he was drafted seventh overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets at the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. In his three seasons with the Blue Jackets, the first round draft pick never surpassed 50 points and was plagued with inconsistency. The Blue Jackets decided to trade the youngster in 2011, along with a 2011 first-round pick (Sean Couturier) and a 2011 third-round pick (Nick Cousins) to the Flyers for Jeff Carter. Even though Voracek scored a career high 18 goals in his first season with the Flyers, he still only achieved 49 points. It was expected that Voracek would revamp his career in that 2011-2012 season with the Flyers but he never really made that step to the next level. He would show up one game and then disappear the next. There was a lot of offensive talent in Philly last season so now with some of that departed, Voracek is getting a chance to be in the spotlight.
The Flyers have now won 3 of their last 4 and much credit must be given to the young Voracek. He has put the team on his back and the result has been infectious. Many other players are getting their games back and the ship seems to be turning in the right direction. Voracek is playing at a tremendous level right now but we know he has consistency issues so we can’t get too excited yet…