It's make-or-break time for Flyers

It's make-or-break time for Flyers

VOORHEES, N.J. — The Flyers returned from their global retreats Friday afternoon set to resume the second half of their season. Looking to work off the bye-week rust, head coach Dave Hakstol put his team through an up-tempo 45-minute practice.

“The energy and mental concentration and that level was really good,” Hakstol said. “You've got to work right back into it, mentally and physically. You can’t just expect that to be there [Saturday] night.”

“We wanted to get our legs under us,” captain Claude Giroux said. “We don’t have time for mental mistakes Saturday. The first period is going to be very key for us. Make sure we make good decisions and be very responsible with the puck.”

Ideally, the Flyers would like to mirror their effort and start from last Saturday’s game against the St. Louis Blues. Prior to Friday’s workout, the team recalled forward Tyrell Goulbourne from Lehigh Valley to replicate the intensity and straight-forward physical play that led to the Flyers' first goal that game (see story).

“He’s here for a reason. He did a good job,” Hakstol said. “I liked the elements he brought in the first two games. Obviously he played limited minutes but that’s part of his role, and he did a good job in that role.”

The Flyers' pursuit of a playoff spot will go straight through the Metropolitan Division where they will play 21 of their final 40 regular-season games. The NHL schedule-makers also sandwiched the Flyers-Devils rivalry together tighter than a grilled panini, with four of the next 15 games to be played against each other.

“When you see each other up close and personal like these two teams are going to do several times here, the team will get familiar with each other real quick,” Hakstol said.

“It’s perfect for us. It’s right where we wanted to be,” forward Wayne Simmonds said. “This is where we need to make up a lot of our points and the best way of doing it is to play teams within our division. Especially since we’re chasing them. From what I’ve heard, [the Devils are] a really fast team. Obviously, there are young guys on the team who fly around, and they play a really exciting brand of hockey.”

This Devils team is a distant memory from the three-time Stanley Cup champion that took great pride in neutral-zone traps, defensive-minded hockey and world-class goaltending. This Devils team plays a much faster-paced game ranked in the top 10 offensively, averaging 3.1 goals a game to go along with the league’s sixth-ranked power play. 

Aside from the Vegas Golden Knights, the Devils are perhaps one of the biggest surprises in the league this season, currently third in the Metropolitan Division with 52 points after finishing with an Eastern Conference-worst 70 points last season.

“It looks like they find ways to win. They have guys who can score goals,” Giroux said. “Their goaltending has been pretty good this year. Cory (Schneider) is one of their best players and I think it’s important to attack him right away.” 

The best of Jakub Voracek on his 29th birthday

The best of Jakub Voracek on his 29th birthday

It's Aug. 15, the dog days of summer and hockey is still a few weeks away.

But Jakub Voracek turns 29 years old today and this summer, the winger has already played a big part in helping push the Flyers' process into its next stage by helping recruit James van Riemsdyk back to town (see story).

Voracek is coming off a career-best season at 28 years old, posting 85 points in 82 games in 2017-18. He finished fourth in the NHL with 65 assists and ninth with 35 power-play points.

All of this came after a somewhat disappointing 2016-17 season — 61 points in 82 games, not particularly bad numbers but also not the production you'd like from a player with an $8.25 million cap hit and in Year 1 of an eight-year, $66 million extension.

Last season, though, Voracek proved that he can still very much produce at a top level. Since joining the Flyers in 2011-12, Voracek is third among all wingers with 303 assists and fifth in points with 439. Since the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign, he's eighth among all skaters with 272 assists and 15th in points with 390.

With today being Voracek's birthday, let's take a look back at some of the best from his time as a Flyer because Voracek is one of the most personable players around.

Some plays

Jan. 27, 2016: Voracek scored the game-winner 38 seconds into overtime. It was an important goal in a big game as the Flyers were in the middle of a wild-card chase (see story).

Oct. 14, 2017: The Flyers put a pounding on the Capitals in an 8-2 win at the Wells Fargo Center. Voracek had three assists. This one was one of them. Poor Madison Bowey.

Jan. 13, 2018: Voracek has also torched other teams than the Capitals. Here is a kick pass to Giroux against the Devils in North Jersey.

Some fights

Voracek is not exactly a fighter. According to, he has four official fights during the regular season and all have come with the Flyers.

There was the time he dropped the gloves with Gabriel Landeskog for about 30 seconds in Colorado and then said, "I don't think I picked the right city to fight in."

Then there was the time when he roughed up Penguins defenseman Rob Scuderi.

Some singing

Sportswriters aren't the only ones who like Bruce Springsteen. Yes, Voracek is also a fan.

A little charity

On Feb. 28, 2017, against the Avalanche, Voracek was eventually credited with a goal many Flyers fans believed was Wayne Simmonds' hat trick. In fact, 396 hats came pouring down to the ice.

As a gesture for taking a hat trick away from Simmonds, Voracek purchased 396 new Flyers hats and donated them to local hospitals for children battling cancer (see story).

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Flyers will face New York Islanders again in annual rookie game

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Flyers will face New York Islanders again in annual rookie game

While the Flyers have not announced the start of their rookie and training camp, they did provide an indication Tuesday of when the camps will be.

For the third straight season, the Flyers and New York Islanders will square off Sept. 12 in their annual rookie game. This time, it returns to New York.

The game will be at 6 p.m. on Sept. 12 at the Northwell Health Ice Center, the Islanders' practice facility in East Meadow, New York. According to Newsday's Andrew Gross, ticket proceeds will benefit the Islanders' Children's Foundation.

In years past, the Flyers have streamed the games on their official website.

Last year, the Flyers-Islanders rookie game was on Sept. 13, 2017, two days after rookie camp began and two days before the main camp opened.

The rookie game marks the official end of rookie camp, so by the process of elimination, a safe guess would be the Flyers' rookie camp will be Sept. 10 and training camp likely opening a day or two after the game.

The Islanders beat the Flyers, 4-3, in overtime last September. The Flyers won the first game two years ago. From 2007 to 2014, the Flyers and Capitals faced each other in their annual rookie games.

Rookie games are fun because they're the first glimpse of prospects and with the Flyers, there's a ton to be excited about — even if signing James van Riemsdyk accelerates their process (see story).

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