Flyers

Is Jakub Voracek's trimmed ice time a big deal?

Is Jakub Voracek's trimmed ice time a big deal?

Jakub Voracek’s 14:30 ice time Saturday night was certainly noteworthy.

It marked the 30-year-old winger’s fewest minutes in a game since the 2015-16 season. When the Flyers were trailing, 2-1, during the third period, one of their best and most experienced playmakers saw no more than three minutes of the ice. In the final stanza, Voracek was bumped off the first line and had shifts with the team’s fourth unit.

The development, which comes in the third game of the season under a new head coach, is nothing to sweep under the rug as if it never happened.

Is it troubling, though? No, at least not yet.

The fact is the Flyers have great depth in their top six. So much so that James van Riemsdyk, a two-time 30-goal scorer and the Flyers’ fourth-highest-paid player, opened the season on the third line.

On Saturday night in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Canucks (see observations), the Flyers were looking to spark their offense during the third period. They had one goal and 17 shots on net at the time. Head coach Alain Vigneault has said how he’s still searching for the best chemistry within his forward combinations and defensive pairs.

JVR, who finished with 15:11 and 15:37 minutes in the Flyers’ first two games, respectively, played 20:19 Saturday night. His jump to the first line was effective as the Flyers outshot the Canucks, 14-6, during the third period with van Riemsdyk, Kevin Hayes and Claude Giroux creating plenty of offense.

When asked Tuesday if he was inclined to experiment with lines early in the season, Vigneault said:

Yes, until I find the chemistry. I’m a firm believer in I think players like to stay on the same line — chemistry gets formed and accountability gets formed also between linemates and D partners. Last game against Chicago was the first time that I felt throughout the four lines we had some chemistry that enabled us to play well defensively and generate some chances offensively. How long that’s going to stay? It’s going to depend obviously on the players’ performance. Until I find the right mix — it could be a duo with a guy going in and out, it could be a line. I’d prefer it be lines, but that obviously depends on the players’ performances.

Vigneault will switch things up and try different combinations. He will also spread out ice time to maximize his push-the-pace, hard-on-the-attack style.

If anything, this is an indication that competition is aplenty among the Flyers’ forwards. There is talent available and minutes are up for grabs.

If you want those minutes, you have to earn them and then keep them.

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Flyers at Senators: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

Flyers at Senators: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

After taking five out of a possible six points from three teams with a combined record of 34-12-12, Alain Vigneault's team has a matchup it can't overlook.

The Flyers (10-5-3) visit the Senators (7-10-1) Friday night to open their fifth back-to-back set of 17 this season.

Let's get into the essentials:

When: 7:30 p.m. ET with Flyers Pregame Live at 7 p.m. ET
Where: Canadian Tire Centre
Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

• The Flyers are playing good hockey, riding a seven-game point streak (5-0-2) and an 8-2-2 stretch since Oct. 21. The Islanders will await them in Philadelphia for a big game Saturday night at the Wells Fargo Center. New York is on a 13-game point streak (12-0-1) and allowing the NHL's fewest goals per game at 2.29.

The showdown Saturday makes Friday a possible trap game for the Flyers against an Ottawa team that is tied for the second-fewest points in the NHL at 15.

With good leadership, I don't think that's going to be an issue. I look at all of our games lately, I look at the league, I look at the parity in the league, I look at the different teams that we've played and some that we haven't played — this is a tough league, every game is a tough battle. Six of our last seven have gone to overtime, quite a few have gone to shootouts.

Ottawa had just won a big game [Wednesday] against the Devils, they've been playing a lot better lately, so we're going to have to be ready, we're going to have to execute, we're going to have to defend. It's going to be another challenging game for us, there's no doubt in my mind.

I'm confident that our leaders are going to make sure that everybody is focused, everybody is ready come puck drop.

- Vigneault on Thursday

• The Senators are 4 for 62 (6.5 percent) on the power play. Eight NHL players have more man advantage goals on the season.

The Flyers' penalty kill is 29 for its last 31 (93.5 percent) and fifth in the league at 86.3 percent.

• In November, Carter Hart is 4-0-1 with a 1.72 goals-against average and .939 save percentage.

• James van Riemsdyk has 28 points (14 goals, 14 assists) in 35 lifetime matchups with Ottawa, matching his most points against any NHL opponent.

Projected lineup

Forwards

Joel Farabee-Claude Giroux-Jakub Voracek
Oskar Lindblom-Sean Couturier-Travis Konecny
James van Riemsdyk-Kevin Hayes-Carsen Twarynski
Andy Andreoff-Michael Raffl-Tyler Pitlick

Defensemen

Ivan Provorov-Matt Niskanen
Shayne Gostisbehere-Justin Braun
Travis Sanheim-Philippe Myers

Goalies

Carter Hart
Brian Elliott

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Joel Farabee: 'If I was the coach, I wouldn't have put me out there'

Joel Farabee: 'If I was the coach, I wouldn't have put me out there'

VOORHEES, N.J. — Flyers assistant coach Ian Laperriere had a joke for Joel Farabee to lighten the 19-year-old’s spirits following the rookie’s 12th NHL game.

“I think Lappy said I had more turnovers last night than I did in all the games before,” Farabee said with a slight smile Thursday.

By no means was Farabee OK with his performance during Wednesday night’s 2-1 shootout loss to the Capitals. He was quick to give the puck away three times instead of looking confident and comfortable with it on his stick, like the skilled winger typically does. 

Farabee expects much more of himself and so do the Flyers. It’s why the youngster fully understood losing his spot on the first line Wednesday and playing only 52 seconds from the third period to the final horn. Farabee finished with his lowest ice time of the season at 11:51. The game marked his first true setback as an NHL player.

"Obviously my play wasn't good enough,” Farabee said. “If I was the coach, I wouldn't have put me out there. I’ve got to be better, too many turnovers. I’ve got to eliminate those, play smarter. You can’t turn over the puck against the Caps, they’re a really good team.

“Just trying to do too much, trying to make the pretty play instead of just taking your medicine, maybe getting the puck deep. I think a lot of my turnovers were right in the neutral zone, so just trying to make too many plays there. I think I just have to simplify now, go back to the basics and go from there.”

With how Farabee works, no one seems too worried about his ability to respond. The Flyers plan to show confidence in him this weekend over a road-home back-to-back set against the Senators Friday (7:30 ET/NBCSP+) and Islanders Saturday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

“Lappy has already got five or six clips that he wants to show him,” Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said Thursday. “Joel last night, for one of the few times, when he had the puck and he touched it, after he touched it, the other team had it. That’s not what we’ve seen from the young man. Sometimes guys are going to want to do well but have an off night. He had an off night last night but he’ll be right back at it [Friday] and I’m sure he’ll be real good for us.”

Farabee may have felt some pressure Wednesday night and it would be hard to fault the teenager if he did. He’s playing a game on national television against Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals. When Ovechkin scored 65 goals and 112 points in 2007-08, Farabee was 7 years old.

Farabee’s accountability is a positive and so too is the Flyers’ belief in him.

“You can’t have turnovers, it hurts the team when you turn over the puck,” Farabee said. “Honestly, I don’t think it’s the biggest deal for me. Just have to forget about it, refocus and focus on Ottawa now.

“Have to demand better for myself, have to help the team as much as I can. Refocus and get back at it.”

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