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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