Why Jake Voracek wasn’t on the top line with Claude Giroux on Wednesday

Why Jake Voracek wasn’t on the top line with Claude Giroux on Wednesday

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.

>> Voracek not concerned with line combinations [CSN]
>> Flyers coach experimenting with lines [Inq]

The Phillies season in one video: 'Phanatic tries to comfort crying baby'

The Phillies season in one video: 'Phanatic tries to comfort crying baby'

What is there to say about the Philadelphia Phillies?

In doing my usual postgame perusal of the Internet after their 7-2 loss on Wednesday night, I visited Phillies.com to see what kind of "highlights" they could have possibly posted from another crushing defeat at the hands of the Colorado Rockies.

Thankfully, the first thing that caught my eye was a video titled, "Phanatic tries to comfort crying baby."

It was not Larry Andersen in the Phanatic's arms. Nor me.

And that's the Phillies season in a nutshell.

"You gotta question the parenting skills here," John Kruk said on the telecast. And he's right! What kind of parent would raise their kid to be a Philly sports fan?!?

The Phillies now have the worst record in all of baseball. They're 4-20 in their last 24 games. It's their worst start to a season since 1960.

Even the Phanatic doesn't have enough popcorn to mask all the pain.

If you want to read about the upbeat approach Pete Mackanin is taking, go give this a gander.

"In a long season, these things sometimes happen," Mackanin told reporters. "I remember Atlanta, the first half last year, was terrible. They had a real good second half. I believe we just need to get something going. We're going to put something together. I believe that."

That makes one of us.

Highly ranked 2018 recruit Brandon Slater verbally commits to Villanova

Highly ranked 2018 recruit Brandon Slater verbally commits to Villanova

The future of Villanova basketball just got brighter.

Brandon Slater, a 6-foot-6 wing and highly touted 2018 recruit, told Scout.com on Wednesday night that he has verbally committed to the Wildcats.

He later made the announcement on Twitter.

Among the 2018 recruiting class, Slater, a product of Paul VI Catholic High School in Fairfax, Virginia, is ranked in the top 30 by Scout.com and top 50 by ESPN.com. He's slated as a four-star talent by both media outlets.

Per ESPN, Slater had offers from Louisville, Maryland, Miami, Syracuse, USC and Virginia Tech. He is Villanova's first commitment for 2018.

"Going up there it just feels like a second home," Slater said, via Evan Daniels of Scout.com. "It gives me a good vibe. It's nothing like all the other schools. I just feel like a Villanova guy. It feels like PVI. It's already home."

Slater and Villanova head coach Jay Wright expressed their excitement on Twitter.