Taking shots paying off for Jakub Voracek

Taking shots paying off for Jakub Voracek
March 4, 2013, 9:00 am
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A clever person on Twitter suggested last week that the media should change Jakub Voracek’s surname to “Scoreacek.”
 
The 23-year-old scored another key goal Saturday in the Flyers' tense 2-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators, giving him 15 points (six goals) over his last eight games. Overall, he has nine goals, which ties him with Wayne Simmonds for the club lead.
 
“[Voracek] seems to keep growing, too,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “Not only has he been getting better, he still is spreading his wings here.
 
“I think at the beginning of the year, coming back, it maybe took him a few games to get up to speed. But right now he's a real strong power forward.”
 
Recall that the Czech winger, who came to the Flyers during the 2011 offseason in the Jeff Carter deal with Columbus, had a career-high 18 goals last season.
 
He’s on pace to match that total during this lockout-shortened season.  The Flyers have finally reached .500 and this week face two clubs -- Penguins and Bruins -- ahead of them in the Eastern Conference standings. Obviously, this is a crucial week for them, and Voracek, to make an impact.
 
“It’s huge,” he said of hitting .500. “It’s a good step, and I think we are in the playoff spot now and we just have to keep winning.”
 
The constant complaint about Voracek had been his reluctance to shoot the puck, preferring to pass. Without question, he’s a gifted player who sees the ice and finds open shooters.
 
Yet the Flyers, much like the Blue Jackets did, think there is ample, untapped scoring talent there if Voracek just shoots the puck more.
 
“We're constantly yelling for the guys to shoot, and I guess Jake's in that category as well,” Laviolette said. “Earlier in the year, generally speaking, we weren't in the offensive zone enough, we weren't putting enough pucks at the net and we weren't generating the attack. Also we had some key personnel out of the lineup, and I think that always takes away from it a little bit in generating offense.
 
“Hartsy [Scott Hartnell] comes back in, he helps [Claude Giroux]. Jake Voracek gets going, and all of the sudden there's more attacks and more attempts at the net.
 
“So we are constantly preaching shoot the puck. Jake's one of those guys that can benefit from that.”
 
Through 23 games, Voracek has taken 61 shots. Only Giroux has taken more (68). Last season, Voracek took 190 shots in 78 games. That averages to 2.4 shots a game.

Presently, he is averaging 2.6. It would appear Voracek is more comfortable on the ice. He said recently his confidence with the puck and shooting is better this season.
 
“I feel the same -- I’m just shooting the puck more,” he said. “That’s obviously creating more chances and we’re picking up more points.”
 
Laviolette sees a winger using his speed off the rush to create better chances for himself.
 
He pointed to the goal against Ottawa, off the rush, as an example.
 
“[It] was a perfect example,” Laviolette said. “Using his speed down the wall, muscling somebody off of it and having the skill to get back and find open ice and delivering a shot all in one motion.
 
“There's been a lot of that from Jake lately. His speed and his quickness has been … [a] key.”