Flyers

Flyers follow through on Claude Giroux's guarantee of victory over Senators

Flyers follow through on Claude Giroux's guarantee of victory over Senators

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If you’re going to make a guarantee, proclaiming victory against the Ottawa Senators seems to be the way to go this season.

Following the Flyers' most lopsided defeat in a home opener in 47 years, Claude Giroux said, “We’re going to go back to work and get a win in Ottawa,” and the Flyers followed through with a 7-4 victory Wednesday (see observations) to wash out the bad taste of a horrible loss on South Broad. 

With all due respect to Giroux and the Flyers, a lot of teams will be taking victories out of Ottawa this season. 

Just prior to training camp, Ottawa traded its best player, two-time Norris trophy winner Erik Karlsson, to the San Jose Sharks — the team that whipped the Flyers 8-2 on home ice just 24 hours earlier.

You can argue the Senators' franchise is still in the tear-down phase of their rebuild.

Entering the regular season, Vegas oddsmakers had the Sens listed as a 200-1 long shot to win the Stanley Cup. Teenager Brady Tkachuk, who just turned 19 a month ago, is arguably their most talented player, and he’s still finding his way in the league.

For 30-year-old Giroux, just playing in front of friends and family in his hometown provides plenty of incentive, but there was no backing down from his bold statement. The Flyers' captain backed it up with a goal and an assist on a team-high seven shots.

And it wasn’t just Giroux. 

Jake Voracek tallied his first ever five-point game, defenseman Radko Gudas registered three assists for the first time, and Calvin Pickard was just good enough to win his Flyers' debut. 

“I think it was important for us to bounce back and play the way we wanted to,” Giroux told reporters. “It was a great team effort. I know Nolan (Patrick) went down and guys stepped up and really played well as a team.”

Patrick exited the game in the first period with an upper-body injury that looks like it may have been a head or neck injury.

Whether Giroux actually believed he was throwing out a guarantee, or if his words were just said in the heat of the moment was unclear, but the Flyers still had to show up and get under the skin of the Senators. Ottawa’s lack of discipline led to seven Flyers power-play opportunities, and Giroux and company had no problem cashing in, scoring twice on 20 power-play shots.

Bad team, plus bad discipline, equals very good results for any opponent, and the Flyers were the lucky recipients as they rolled a seven on the Canadian Tire Center scoreboard.

“This is a hell of a push-back win on a back-to-back when it was coming off a real miserable night in our own building,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “We’re going to take the positives, regroup and build for Saturday.” 

Then again, producing positives against the Ottawa Senators this season should be expected.

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Jakub Voracek comes in loud and clear for Flyers

Jakub Voracek comes in loud and clear for Flyers

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Somehow, Jakub Voracek rolled into 2018-19 like a forgotten man.

Think about it.

Claude Giroux was coming off the 102-point season. Sean Couturier had his anticipated breakout. James van Riemsdyk jumped back on board. Wayne Simmonds brought the unpreventable contract buzz. Shayne Gostisbehere and Ivan Provorov provided the excitement on the blue line. Travis Konecny and Nolan Patrick oozed with expectations. The goalies … yeah, it's Philadelphia.

Voracek, on the other hand, didn't seem to generate much of the discussion as the Flyers entered this season built to be more than just a small stepping-stone.

And maybe it was a good thing. Maybe it meant Voracek's career-high 85 points last year represented his capability at this stage of his career.

Regardless, silly us for letting his meaning become a subplot of sorts.

Voracek's play did all the talking Saturday, his game-breaking ability that dominates the conversation on full display. His importance to the Flyers was succinctly evident in a 5-2 victory over the Devils at the Wells Fargo Center (see observations).

With the Flyers twice in need of a play, a motivated Voracek made it happen. He found Nolan Patrick for a go-ahead goal with 1:04 left in the second period. After the Devils tied it, 2-2, early in the third, Voracek regained the advantage with under four minutes to go on a nifty move in open ice, where he's as good as anybody (see highlights).

Without Voracek Saturday, the Flyers are 3-5-0 instead of climbing back to .500.

Don't tell him that, though.

"The first 39 minutes, I played like horses--t," Voracek said. "You guys have got to watch the game a little bit more, you know what I mean? It's not only about points. The last three games, I think I played good hockey, it just didn't go in. Just because I'm not on the scoresheet doesn't mean I didn't play well. So many times it happens."

Voracek went scoreless over the Flyers' previous three games. Despite that, he has 11 points (three goals, eight assists) through eight contests.

It's also not all about what shows up in the box score, like Voracek said.

But if he remains that hard on himself when he could have easily accepted the praise, the Flyers will be better off moving forward.

"With his dynamics, he can change the look of a hockey game," Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said. "He made a heck of a play on our second goal with his speed coming down the wing and the third goal, a lot of that was him. If he wants more, that's good. I love to hear that. If he thinks he can be better, and wants to be better — hey, we're .500, so everybody has to be a little bit better."

Voracek was near his best.

The Flyers will take that horses--t.

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Flyers 5, Devils 2: Jakub Voracek's brilliant effort results in big home win

Flyers 5, Devils 2: Jakub Voracek's brilliant effort results in big home win

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The Flyers should thank Jakub Voracek.

He was brilliant Saturday with two assists and the game-winning goal to push the Flyers past the Devils, 5-2, at the Wells Fargo Canter.

This was a quality — and needed — victory for the Flyers (4-4-0), who climbed back to .500 following an ugly showing Thursday in Columbus.

It was quality because the Devils (4-2-0) came in as one of the NHL's hottest teams to start the 2018-19 season. New Jersey opened the year with four straight wins over the Oilers, Capitals, Sharks and Stars by a combined score of 17-4.

Voracek passed John LeClair for 12th on the franchise's all-time assists list at 311, adding to his big day.

The game went down to the wire before Wayne Simmonds and Scott Laughton tacked on empty-netters to finish the deal.

• Voracek's game-winner in the final four minutes was on a nifty move. Not many have his handles and ability in the open ice. He single-handedly made plays.

• Nolan Patrick was back Saturday after missing the past three games with an upper-body injury. It was a productive return. Off a superb pass from Voracek, the 20-year-old center scored his first goal of the season with Nico Hischier behind in pursuit.

The goal gave the Flyers a 2-1 lead with 1:04 left in the second period. Patrick back in the lineup is huge on multiple fronts, especially his two-way focus down the middle. The offense will come, but the little things he does are game-changing traits.

• Travis Konecny is starting to heat up. He scored an important goal on the second-unit power play a little over six minutes after the Devils struck first in the opening period.

It was vital to get that goal back, especially from the No. 2 man-advantage group. Konecny aggressively ripped a shot from the circle for his second goal in as many games. He has four points in his last three games after putting up just one in his first five.

• Jordan Weal is a player. Yes, he did commit three penalties, with the third resulting in the Devils' game-tying 2-2 goal early in the final frame.

But he's smart, he's skilled, he wins faceoffs and he has to stay at center. It would be hard to justify him sitting much this season.

It's no coincidence Konecny has gotten going with Weal centering his line over the last three outings. Weal saw second-unit PP time Saturday and he won the faceoff that led to Konecny's goal.

The 26-year-old can play — he just needs to be in the right spots. He helped the Flyers have a 44-16 advantage in the dot.

• For the first time this season, head coach Dave Hakstol separated top defensive pair Shayne Gostisbehere and Ivan Provorov. Gostisbehere was with Christian Folin, while Provorov teamed up with Robert Hagg.

This was a good time to try breaking up those two and create a little more balance and complementary pairs.

• Brian Elliott wasn't tested a ton but he did make some of those timely saves when it's a point-blank shot and you need your goalie to come up big. He stopped 19 shots.

Devils goalie Keith Kinkaid entered 6-1-0 with a 2.38 goals-against average and .918 save percentage in his career against the Flyers. He made 16 saves.

• The officiating was not great. The first-period hooking penalty called on Michael Raffl was a ticky-tacky one and led to the Devils' game-opening marker.

During a second-period power play, Weal was whistled for embellishment and Hakstol made sure to give the officials an earful.

• The Flyers are off Sunday and then host the Avalanche Monday night at 7 p.m. on NBCSP. Gritty shirts will be given to all fans in attendance (see story).

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