If you were wondering why Jakub Voracek did not skate on Claude Giroux’s line in the Fleyrs’ season opener, you weren't alone. Both CSN’s Tim Panaccio and Sam Carchidi for the Inquirer wrote about Peter Laviolette’s perplexing decision for Saturday, so while for all we know the arrangement was only for one game, the aftershock is still being felt.
As Panotch concludes, the decision makes more sense when explained. Lavvy revealed Voracek has been dealing with a lower-back injury and wasn’t quite up for skating top-line minutes. Come to think of it, Jake seemed to keep a low profile in Wednesday’s 3-1 loss to the Maple Leafs, firing just one shot on net over 16 minutes of ice time.
Laviolette also says the Flyers are “trying to get balance throughout the lineup.” That’s where the head coach starts to lose me. Sure, nothing’s written in stone, but he’s already wasted one-third of a season figuring out Voracek and Giroux have tremendous chemistry. Why would we go through that again?
Here’s a little reminder of how much better both players were over the final 32 games once they were paired together.
First 16 games
Giroux: 3 goals, 7 assists, minus-6
Voracek: 3 goals, 8 assists, minus-7
Final 32 games
Giroux: 10 goals, 28 assists, minus-1
Voracek: 18 goals, 20 assists, 0 plus/minus
In case it’s not readily apparent, they both essentially averaged twice as many points per game together than when they were apart. The difference was rather significant.
If Voracek isn’t really healthy enough to skate on the top line for the time being, by all means make that change. As far as this finding-a-balance stuff is concerned, that sounds swell and all, but I’d much rather the Flyers get their biggest offensive weapon loaded and doing some damage first.