Jakub Voracek has five goals in his last five games. (USA Today Images)
Has Jakub “Scoracek” re-emerged for the Flyers?
That might be the appropriate question to consider on Wednesday as the Flyers had an optional practice.
Voracek scored two goals during the Flyers' 5-2 comeback win over the Washington Capitals on Monday night.
That’s five goals over his last five games – three of which were power-play goals. His overall goal total for the season is now eight.
So what’s different lately?
“It’s hard to say,” Voracek said. “I don’t think they had a little extra energy in them today; they had it two days ago. Obviously, that third [period] goal was huge, when Simmer [Wayne Simmonds] scored and outskated everyone, very well buried. I think we handled it pretty well, we scored that fifth goal to check in was the biggest difference.”
When Peter Laviolette was here, he often said that Voracek needed to shoot the puck more. His replacement, Craig Berube, has been saying the same thing.
Voracek likes to pass the puck. He is as unselfish as they come. Yet he has a tremendous wrist shot from the circle and needs to shoot more. He had four shots on Monday night.
And not just Monday. During this five-game peak, Voracek has taken 20 shots. That’s what the coaching staff wants to see.
“Surprised myself too, so I don’t know, just read is a little better,” Voracek said. “I was coming down and just didn’t see that pass … so I try to shoot it far side and get a rebound. If he’s going to save it -- it went in, so it was a big goal for us. Just got to keep shooting the puck."
Voracek told the Wells Fargo Center crowd between periods on the Jumbotron that he “surprised” himself with his increased shooting. What made him say that twice?
“Because I never shoot like that, I always pass,” Voracek admitted. “It’s been like that since I was a kid, try to look for the play, pass or something on a three-on-two. I think it comes with the experience a little bit, when you make a better decision to shoot it or pass it and I decided to shoot and it was a good decision at that time.”
His first goal tied the game at 1 early in the second period. His second came during a five-minute power play after Tom Wilson destroyed Brayden Schenn and was ejected for charging.
That goal made it 4-2 and gave goalie Steve Mason some breathing room.
“It’s fun, but we’ve got to make sure we come out on the winning end,” Voracek said. “If we play that kind of game and we lose by one goal, it doesn’t feel very well ... We scored a goal when we needed to, so that was the biggest difference for us.”
Why an optional practice? Because December has 14 games in 31 days with tons of travel. Berube realizes his players need rest. Also, the coaches were talking about what the Blackhawks did in Chicago last season with just six practices over the 48-game schedule. Joel Quenneville felt it was significant in keeping his team’s legs fresh for the playoffs. Chicago won the Stanley Cup.
Vinny Lecavalier skated about 30 minutes and shot pucks. He also did some hard circle moves to test his back. Lecavalier has a non-displaced fracture in his lower back and spasms over the affected area, as well.
“He’s coming, he’s getting better," Berube said. "I think it is just timing thing with him. Until he feels good enough and it’s healed. Still, he has time to go yet [before he can play]. But he is feeling better."