Voracek injured in Flyers' preseason loss to NJ

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Voracek injured in Flyers' preseason loss to NJ

On a night when the Flyers' top centerman, Claude Giroux, made his preseason debut coming off an injury, his top right wing went down with an injury of his own.

Jakub Voracek, the Flyers’ leading goal scorer last season with 22, sustained an “upper-body” injury during the second period of Tuesday’s 2-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils at Wells Fargo Center.

“It’s not serious,” general manager Paul Holmgren said. “I don’t think he was going to play on Thursday anyway.”

Voracek was taken down hard from behind by Devils’ defenseman Mark Fayne during a second period breakaway.

The Czech winger slid awkwardly into the left post, appearing to injure the left side of his back. Though awarded a penalty shot, Voracek was in so much discomfort, he failed to get a decent shot off.

Even before taking the penalty shot, Voracek was in obvious pain after untangling himself from the net.

“You never want to see that,” coach Peter Laviolette said of the injury. “I love the move he made -- the power move to the net from the outside. It was a great play, a great attempt, but you don’t want to see anybody hurt.”

Voracek left the game and did not return, but was walking afterward without a limp. He was not, however, permitted to speak to the media.

Giroux made his preseason debut recovering from surgery to repair tendon damage to his right hand.

“I felt better as the game went on,” Giroux said. “I think the first period was just getting back in the game and making plays.”

He must be feeling pretty good, as Giroux won 9 of 11 faceoffs.

“He will continue to get to game speed and there is always a little bit of transition for guys coming in that … come off an injury and getting back into a game,” Laviolette said.

“Game speed and quickness, so I think that will get better for him as he plays and practices. Overall, he played a pretty good game.”

Injuries aside, early on this was another frustrating match against a Devils team that literally owns the Flyers.

What was unnerving about just another preseason game is that some of the things that presented themselves against the Devils, we’ve seen in the regular season.

Specifically, the Flyers' inability to handle the Devils' nasty forecheck. In fairness, once they found their skating legs in the second period, that was no longer an issue. However, the Flyers didn’t generate enough quality chances overall on goalie Corey Schneider.

In the first period, the Flyers couldn’t even generate shots, as they went over 11 minutes without a single one. When they finally did get one, it wasn’t from one of their high-octane forwards but rather enforcer Jay Rosehill.

New Jersey outshot the Flyers, 11-4, that period.

Second period? That was a completely different story, as the Flyers began moving their skates in unison.

“New guys playing with new guys and learning the system,” Giroux said. “You could see as the game went on we took control a little bit. New Jersey is always good defensively. We had our chances.”

Voracek’s breakaway represented the Flyers' best chance of the game.

The Flyers outplayed the Devils in the second period and had the better chances overall.

The Devils' first goal early in the game was a beauty in which Ryane Clowe hit Marek Zidlicky pinching down the slot from the point.

Zidlicky quickly scanned the Flyers' defense and put a stutter-step move on Erik Gustafsson. It was enough to allow him to swing very, very wide to the right circle, then cut behind Gustafsson to the net, switch hands and tuck the puck inside the right post.

The way Ray Emery was playing it, he obviously expected Zidlicky to go wide around the net and that didn’t happen.

“Yeah, it’s just a situation where you kind of get froze and you want to kind of challenge the shooter there, and he made a good play kind of coming back against it,” Emery said.

Mike Sislo’s backhander in the final period was weak. Not only did he get too much room in beating Andrej Meszaros, his shot found a hole between the post and Emery, as well.

Kimmo Timonen had a power-play goal late in the game.

The Flyers are now 1-3-1 with two exhibition games left to play -- Thursday in New Jersey and Friday in Washington.

Ron Hextall, Flyers know what they have in Nolan Patrick

Ron Hextall, Flyers know what they have in Nolan Patrick

CHICAGO — Ron Hextall had no idea which way New Jersey Devils general manager Ray Shero was leaning.

Would Shero take Nolan Patrick or Nico Hischier with his No. 1 pick?

"I asked Ray 10 minutes before he picked and he wouldn't tell me," Hextall said. "I give him credit. That is what he should have done … I didn't have an expectation one way or the other."

Shero wanted a dynamic player to put bodies in the stands at Prudential Center. He chose Hischier.

That made it easy for Hextall at No. 2 to select Patrick (see story).

If rumors were true that Shero was scared off by Patrick's several injuries this past season at Brandon, well, the Flyers weren't.

"What I believe, we gather a lot of information," Hextall said. "There's some stuff out there you want to prove wrong and we did. We're comfortable with the injury part of it. He is a really good young man."

Patrick is a two-way player and a natural center. The Flyers have seven centers right now (see story), including Patrick, who is expected to play now. 

Hextall said he doesn't envision switching Patrick to the wing.

"I would rather have too many centers rather than five wingers on each side and no one to go in the middle," Hextall said.

Interesting that German Rubtsov, last year's top pick for the Flyers, has already been converted to a left winger since coming to North America to play junior.

Will Patrick be a No. 1 center as scouts project?

"Nolan has to answer that," Hextall said. "We see a kid with a big body, extremely high hockey sense, really good skill set. You get drafted today? The work starts now and Nolan has to put the work in.

"This is another level … this is the National Hockey League. In September, he comes to camp. He needs a big summer."

Ron Hextall on Flyers' logjam of centers: 'Someone has to play the wing'

Ron Hextall on Flyers' logjam of centers: 'Someone has to play the wing'

CHICAGO – The Flyers already have a familiar problem coming out of this NHL draft and heading training camp next fall: they’re too deep at center.
 
Friday night, they added three centers and traded another.
 
Brayden Schenn was sent to St. Louis for the Blues’ 27th pick in the first round, plus a conditional 2018 first-round pick and veteran utility center Jori Lehtera (see story).
 
General manager Ron Hextall wanted to trade back into the first round late and he did so by tabbing Morgan Frost at No. 27 with that Blues’ pick.
 
NHL Central Scouting had Frost ranked 31st among North American skaters. He is a 6-0, 170-pound forward from Aurora, Ontario.
 
He has raw speed and skill, but scouts say other parts of his game will need time to fill out. Frost had 20 goals and 62 points for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the OHL this past season.
 
Friday’s other first-round pick, Nolan Patrick, is a natural centerman. Patrick is expected to play in the NHL this season. So right now, the Flyers’ centers are Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, Valtteri Filppula, Mike Vecchione, plus Patrick and now Lehtera.
 
Lehtera had 30 goals and 100 points in 218 games with the Blues. He was both a first- and second-line center for the Blues this past season despite weak numbers — seven goals and 22 points in 64 games.
 
He is a decent playmaker and two-way player, who has centered Alex Steen and Vladimir Tarasenko.
 
“He is utility guy with a well-rounded game and can play in the middle,” Hextall said. “We like the player. Gives coach more options.”
 
Best option: Lehtera can move to left wing if needed.
 
“Someone has to play the wing,” Hextall said. “He can play the wing. Our scouts have seen him play the wing, but he plays center most games. I am assuming he prefers center like most of them. Someone has to play wing.”
 
Schenn had improved every year he was with the Flyers, but too much of his scoring is on the power play and not five-on-five. He had 109 goals and 246 points in 424 career games for the Flyers.
 
This deal seems strange unless you consider the Flyers got another first-round pick (Frost) and a top-10 protected, conditional first-rounder next year. The Blues have the option to defer the 2018 first-rounder to 2019 but if they do so, the Flyers will also receive the Blues' 2020 third-round pick.
 
“It was a combination,” Hextall said of the advantages’ from the Flyers side. “It was one of those [trades] that came out of nowhere. Not like we were shopping Brayden.
 
“This deal came along and we really like the draft next year. We like the late pick this year and Jori. It made sense and we got a couple more young players.”
 
Young players like Frost, whom the Flyers are excited about.
 
“Our whole staff really liked the guy,” Hextall said. “He’s an extremely intelligent player, his No. 1 asset. Really smart. Reads the ice well. He has a very deft touch moving the puck.
 
“Good two-way player who showed up good in the testing. We believe he is a kid with a lot of upside. Good speed, but he dissects the game better than most players.”
 
Frost’s father Andy was the longtime former Toronto Maple Leafs PA announcer.
 
“I talked to them a couple times,” Frost said. “I’d say I had a bit of a gut feeling. I wasn’t too sure, but they took me and I’m super happy about it.
 
“I think first and foremost I’m a playmaker. I think I’m a high-skilled player that likes to use his vision and hockey sense to create plays. I’m working on becoming more of a two-way forward. That’s more of the player I want to become.”