Moving Voracek Around the Lineup Nothing to Be Le-Cavalier About

Moving Voracek Around the Lineup Nothing to Be Le-Cavalier About

When you think of things that worked for the Flyers on the ice last season, pairing Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek together on the top line should be right at the top of the list. Voracek helped jump start Giroux’s campaign when the captain got off to a slow start, while G helped his right wing realize renewed potential as a scorer.

They seemed like such a logical fit together, it was difficult to understand why head coach Peter Laviolette didn’t try it sooner – or from day one for that matter.

Whatever the reason for the delay, at least now we know that it works. Giroux posted three goals and seven assists through the first 16 games of 2013. Voracek had three scores and eight helpers over the same span. Once the two of them joined forces however, Giroux picked up the pace with 10 and 28 over the final 32 games, while Voracek erupted for 19 and 16.

And that was with a revolving door on the left side. Imagine the numbers they could rack up over a full season, especially were Scott Hartnell able to locate his stroke again, or if somebody else could fill the void.

Keep on imagining, because you might not see it all that much. When the Flyers signed Vinny Lecavalier last week, it was widely assumed he was brought here to replace Danny Briere as the second-line center. It turns out the team might be interested in having him play right wing though, specifically on Giroux’s line. Lecavalier discussed the possibility in a conference call with reporters over the weekend.

Lecavalier said he would be “very comfortable” on right wing and admitted he was asked about that by Laviolette in their meeting. The Flyers need scoring on the right side and once again have a log jam of centers.

Lecavalier said he would love to play right wing on Claude Giroux’s line. That’s a problem because Jakub Voracek on the right side was an outstanding fit for the Flyers last season, when he scored 22 goals and was second to Giroux (48 points) in total points with 46.

“If you watch me in a game, if I have a choice of going on the left side with the puck or right side, I choose, 99 percent of time, going on the right side,” said Lecavalier, who is a left-handed shot.

“It’s not something I really worry about, especially after being told you might play with Claude Giroux. I’m open to that and would be excited for that.

“I would be very comfortable [there]. That is something they asked me at the meeting if I could play wing and I said, certainly. I’m a lot more comfortable on the right wing than on the off-wing.”

This is exactly the type of situation that some feared when Lecavalier was signed, only we thought Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier were the ones at risk of being pushed down the lineup and/or having their positions changed. Instead it seems Voracek could be forced to slide over to the left, or change lines altogether.

Granted coaches switch up their lines from time to time, and there’s a chance at some point over an 82-game season Giroux and Voracek may have been splitsville as part of some type of shakeup. Why are the Flyers already considering messing with that chemistry now though, in July?

Maybe all of this is much ado about nothing. Maybe Voracek could excel just as easily on Giroux’s left. Maybe it’s the Flyers’ brain trust doing their due diligence and figuring out what Lecavalier is comfortable with before signing him. Regardless, it’s a curious development as we ponder where Lecavalier fits with the Orange & Black.

>> Lecavalier chose Flyers before an offer was made [CSN]

Andrew Kulp is a freelance writer covering Philadelphia sports for The700Level.com. E-mail him at andrewkulp@comcast.net or follow him on Twitter.

Flyers' loss changes complexion after questionable penalty on Radko Gudas

Flyers' loss changes complexion after questionable penalty on Radko Gudas

There are good penalties. And bad penalties. And penalties which aren’t even penalties.

The last one would perfectly describe Radko Gudas’ hip check on Miles Wood that was whistled as clipping by referee Dan O’Halloran in the second period.

Even Wood was laughing as Gudas went to the box, realizing what a break he had gotten – a power play for nothing.

“He’s a pretty quick D-man,” Wood said. “I don’t think it should have been a call, but it was a good hit by him.”

That gave the Devils a power play. Then, when Wayne Simmond argued the call with O'Halloran, Simmonds drew two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct. The resulting 5-on-3 New Jersey power play saw the Devils score to break a 1-1 tie.

Minutes later, the Flyers had a bad line change and it was 3-1. Game over. The Devils would go on to win, 4-1 (see game story).

Bottom line? The Gudas call changed everything.

“I was really surprised,” Gudas said. “I didn’t think it was a penalty at all.”

Is this oversimplifying the game to say everything changed with that one call?

“Are we really simplifying it?” Gudas asked. “I think that after those calls we have to get together as a group and make sure we kill these off. Unfortunately, we let them score on that power play. It was just unlucky.”

Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol called it “an excellent hit” by Gudas. He wouldn’t go deeper than that.

The six muffed power plays gave him enough reason to believe the Flyers could have gotten back in it. His Flyers are 3-9-3 since winning 10 games.

You can’t underestimate how those two calls turned the tables on the Flyers in this game.

“Everyone has their own opinion on the hit and we were obviously frustrated on the hit,” Travis Konecny said. “We thought it was a clean hit and we reacted to it. We have everyone’s backs.

“We have all had the one’s where we are angry with the ref and the one who made a hit like that. There is a time for that moment there.”

Goalie Michal Neuvirth thought it was a difference maker.

“Oh, absolutely, we were playing better in the second period,” he said. “I thought we had a momentum. You know stuff like that 5-on-3 for two minutes, it’s tough to defend.

“I think it’s taking way too many penalties lately and you got to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Best of NHL: Lee scores 2 power-play goals, Islanders beat Kings

Best of NHL: Lee scores 2 power-play goals, Islanders beat Kings

NEW YORK -- The New York Islanders are on quite a nice roll.

Anders Lee scored two power-play goals to lead the Islanders to a 4-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night, giving New York its third straight win and fourth in the last five games.

"We've been keeping it simple of late," said Lee, who has four goals in two games against the Kings this season. "We've been getting shots on net and being more effective. I'll do my thing down low."

John Tavares had a goal and an assist, Jason Chimera also scored and Jean-Francois Berube stopped 34 shots to earn his first win in his third start of the season (see full recap).

Hartnell snaps tie as Blue Jackets beat Carolina 3-2
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Blue Jackets would just as soon forget the second period of Saturday's game, when the Carolina Hurricanes rallied from a 2-0 deficit to tie it.

Columbus didn't play much better in the third but withstood 15 shots and killed three penalties. Midway through, Scott Hartnell scored his second goal of the game , and the Blue Jackets beat Carolina 3-2.

Columbus got the win despite being outshot 37-20.

Hartnell scored in the first period and then netted the tiebreaker, helping the Blue Jackets overcome a horrendous second period - in which they managed only two shots on goal - to beat Carolina for the second time this week (see full recap).

Beagle scores in overtime, Capitals beat Stars 4-3
DALLAS -- Jay Beagle scored 19 seconds into overtime and the Washington Capitals rallied to beat the Dallas Stars 4-3 on Saturday night.

Evgeny Kuznetsov skated behind the net and put the puck in front to Beagle. His wrist shot beat goalie Kari Lehtonen, who got tangled with a defender and lost his footing.

The Stars led 3-1 and didn't allow Washington a power play until the third period, but then Alex Ovechkin and T.J. Oshie scored with the man advantage in the first 5:26 of the period.

Adam Cracknell and Jamie Benn scored for Dallas on plays that originally were ruled no goal. Patrick Eaves had a goal and an assist for the Stars (see full recap).

Bogosian scores in overtime, Sabres edge Canadiens 3-2
MONTREAL -- The Sabres couldn't score from in close on All-Star goalie Carey Price late in regulation Saturday night.

So Zach Bogosian teed it up from a ways out in overtime to lift Buffalo.

Bogosian scored his first goal of the season in overtime and the Sabres beat the Montreal Canadiens 3-2 in the second game of a back-to-back for both teams.

Buffalo nearly broke through against Price near the end of the third period. Price made a pad save on Matt Moulson on a breakaway at 19:40, and then with six seconds remaining, he robbed Rasmus Ristolainen with a windmill glove save (see full recap).