Jakub Voracek's last 46 games
2012 stretch: 15 GP, 7 G, 8 A, 15 PTS
2012 playoffs: 11 GP, 2 G, 8 A, 10 PTS
2013 to date: 20 GP, 7 G, 15 A, 22 PTS
TOTAL: 46 GP, 16 G, 31 A, 47 PTS
One of the items on the Flyers' wishlist this season after losing Jaromir Jagr in free agency was for an increase in scoring from their younger players.
Players like the 23-year-old Jakub Voracek, who scored a career-high 18 goals last season in his first year as a Flyer.
As of Sunday, Voracek was tied with Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg for seventh in NHL scoring, with 22 points in 20 games. On Monday he was named the NHL's First Star of the Week.
"It's good news. We got three wins in the week," Voracek said of the honor.
Actually, it’s better than good. It’s great.
If you analyze Voracek’s last 46 games, including playoffs, starting with the Flyers' win over Detroit last season on Mark Howe Night he has 47 points, making him a point-a-game player (see sidebar). And if you prorate his numbers right now, he would score 28 goals on an 82-game schedule.
"I would say point-wise for sure," said Voracek, reflecting on the best stretch of his career. "I don't know about playing-wise. Obviously, I feel very good. We're scoring a lot of important goals, playing with G (Claude Giroux) and now Hartsy (Scott Hartnell). Point-wise, for sure. Playing-wise, I feel pretty good the last two or three weeks."
Without question, Voracek has given the Flyers a lift in late February with 12 points over his past five games.
“In my opinion, I'm always at the same level,” Voracek said. “The way I'm thinking, I'm not playing well, I'm not getting low on myself. If I'm playing good, I'm not getting too high.”
Flyers coach Peter Laviolette has moved him to Claude Giroux’s line the last four games. The move has paid off in the form of four goals.
“Skating is a key to his success,” Laviolette said. “He’s a talented guy. When he uses his speed and quickness, he is able to generate a lot of offense. Since he’s been here, he’s gotten the opportunity to move the puck around with some decent players.
“And get on a first power-play unit and handle the puck a lot in situations where he deserves to be. There is an experience and process where you mature through time in the National Hockey League.
“He was young when he first got here. ... You grow and develop and continue to gain insight into the league with experience to develop your skills. That’s where he has gone.”
Voracek picked up three assists in the Flyers' come-from-behind 5-3 win over Winnipeg on Saturday. He assisted on Brayden Schenn’s clutch, tying goal in the third period and also on Wayne Simmonds' game-winner. Both were on the power play.
His passing that game was worthy of Jagr in terms of finding ways to thread pucks through the slot. Jagr would tell you that Voracek was a very attentive student under him last season.
“Jakub is moving very well,” Laviolette said. “He’s at his best when he’s fast and quick and on top of his game. Quick is standing on the blue line and you take two steps and find yourself a scoring opportunity.
“Fast is when you are able to push the defenseman back down the wall, throw a puck at the net so someone can redirect. To me, the last couple of weeks, his speed has really been there.”
It needs to stay there if the Flyers are going to make some headway in the Eastern Conference standings and get a playoff berth.
Bill Meltzer of Hockeybuzz.com contributed to this story.