Flyers pleased with effort but want better results
Jakub Voracek finished second on the Flyers in scoring last season with 46 points. (USA Today Images)
MONTREAL – When Peter Laviolette changed up his top line this week, he wanted to spread out the offense more and give the Flyers' lineup more scoring balance.
That’s why Jakub Voracek moved off Claude Giroux’s unit with Scott Hartnell down to Sean Couturier’s line with Max Talbot.
No one fully bought that was the entire reason, if only because of the obvious offensive chemistry exhibited between Giroux and Voracek last season. Both these players finished first and second in leading the Flyers in scoring with 48 and 46 points, respectively.
Part of the reason for the switch, as it turns out, was more obvious: Voracek hadn’t skated daily with the team because of a lower-back injury suffered in the final week of preseason. Voracek wasn’t quite up to the skating necessary with the top line.
Laviolette figured a move would reduce his minutes a bit, but because of the Flyers' seven power plays in their opening night loss to Toronto, Voracek still ended up with 16:36 in ice time and 7:11 of power-play time.
“He’s just coming back off that injury,” Laviolette said. “It’s a little of both. There’s a lot of success with Jake and Sean and Max when they played together a couple of years ago.
“It gives us a little more [offensive] balance. Nothing is set in stone. We’re looking at things. Like I said, the other night we generated plenty of offensive chances. We got to get it to drop.”
Voracek did take third-period shifts back with his old linemates. Tonight, he could return there for good, but on Friday, it seemed like Laviolette was going to keep him on Couturier’s line against the Canadiens.
If that’s the case, Voracek isn’t concerned.
“[Couturier] is a great player,” Voracek said. “Look at him. He’s been in the league just three years. He’s 20 years old. It’s just, the first games are always kind of rough. All the emotions, lots of waiting and the first game it’s kinda, especially, at home, a lot of expectations.
“But it’s fun [playing] with Coots and Max. I’m excited about this game, too. I’m sure we’re going to contribute.”
The one advantage to playing down on a third line, he said, was you don’t go up against the other team’s shutdown defensemen. You draw a better – easier – defensive pair.
“Claude is always going to play against the better defensemen, the shutdown defensemen,” Voracek said. “It should be an advantage for me.
“I don’t want to say I am playing against worst players, but obviously, not going against their top defensemen. I just have to take advantage of that. That is what Lavy is pointing out – spread out their lineup and try to get the offense going for all three lines.”
The Flyers' scoring woes in preseason followed them into the regular season opener – just one goal against the Maple Leafs. How about a hat trick against Montreal?
“Hat trick?” Voracek asked. “Lets’ start with a ‘W’. If I get a hat trick, that’s gravy. We get two points in a tough building, that’s [better].”