jakub voracek

Jakub Voracek raves about James van Riemsdyk's net-front magic

Jakub Voracek raves about James van Riemsdyk's net-front magic

VOORHEES, N.J. — Jakub Voracek has all types of skill and wizardry to his game.

He'll weave and dazzle through traffic with the best of them, a true threat to make a highlight-reel play whenever the puck touches his stick.

But the bag of tricks James van Riemsdyk carries in front of the net will even make Voracek scratch his head. A magician like himself can appreciate another one's work.

That's why Voracek was brimming with excitement Wednesday at Flyers Skate Zone over the addition of van Riemsdyk's power-play prowess. All signs point to van Riemsdyk making his highly anticipated return Thursday from a lower-body injury that knocked the winger out of action in the first period of the season's second game.

The Flyers' big summer splash joined Voracek on the first-unit power play Wednesday, an area the Flyers hammered away at during practice and for good reason. The man advantage is 3 for 39 since Oct. 13, last in the NHL at 7.7 percent. Overall, it ranks 28th in the league at 13.6 percent.

Here comes van Riemsdyk ready to roam the blue paint.

Talk about a sight for sore eyes. The Flyers' power play will welcome van Riemsdyk with open arms. 

Voracek sure is and here's why:

He's got really, really soft hands and he's got a really good touch. He can make the plays out of nothing, which is really important. He can raise the puck under the bar from impossible angles. He kind of gives the goalies a little bit more respect. Like if I'm standing in front of the net, one foot from the pad, I'm not going to raise it anywhere, but he will.

He's a big body in front of the net, he's a great player that can score goals. Obviously we missed him over the period of time, especially on the power play. He's a really smart player around the net and he's going to help us a lot.

With van Riemsdyk rejoining the picture, the Flyers can now see what they envisioned when they signed JVR for five years, $35 million on July 1. Dave Hakstol and company will roll out a 30-goal scorer on both man-advantage groups. 

Wayne Simmonds, who has made the net-front role his M.O., will try to bolster the second unit. Since the 2011-12 season, his first with the Flyers, Simmonds owns 88 power-play goals, second in the NHL to only Alex Ovechkin's 137.

Here's how the Flyers' man-advantage groups should look Thursday night against the Devils at the Wells Fargo Center:

• Claude Giroux, James van Riemsdyk, Jakub Voracek, Sean Couturier, Shayne Gostisbehere

• Wayne Simmonds, Nolan Patrick, Travis Konecny, Jordan Weal, Ivan Provorov

In 2017-18 with the Maple Leafs, van Riemsdyk buried a career-high 11 power-play markers en route to a 36-goal season.

"He's just going to go and do what he does," Hakstol said.

And the Flyers need it.

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Where does James van Riemsdyk fit on red-hot Flyers?

Where does James van Riemsdyk fit on red-hot Flyers?

VOORHEES, N.J. — Sitting with the fourth-liners in their white practice sweaters, James van Riemsdyk looked like a neon golf ball in a bucket of Titleists.

JVR was the only Flyer wearing a yellow sweater on Monday as the odd man out still working his way into game shape. Before too long, van Riemsdyk will be reintegrated onto one of the Flyers’ four lines.

Right now, the only logical spot for JVR once he’s cleared to return is on the Flyers' third line, which speaks to how well this team is performing at even strength. Van Riemsdyk would in all likelihood bump Dale Weise, who’s been playing some of his best hockey since joining the Flyers in 2016.  

Without van Riemsdyk, the Flyers have already posted 56 goals (3.35 per game) through their first 17 games this season, which is currently tied for ninth best in the NHL. Last season, they had scored 50 goals at the 17-game mark. Even more impressively, the Flyers have put up that much offense with a rather ineffective power play that ranks 28th in the league.

At the moment, the second line appears to be an untouchable group with Oskar Lindblom, Nolan Patrick and Jakub Voracek producing quality scoring opportunities almost nightly. That trio has manufactured six goals and 12 assists since the game in Anaheim that kick-started the Flyers’ 5-0-1 stretch.

“You could tell in practice today the pace was really high and we were enjoying it," Voracek said. "It’s a little bit different than the beginning of the year.

“It all depends on how the players are playing. Sometimes you can have the depth and not everybody can perform the way you want them to be. Right now, the way we’re going I think we’re playing good hockey. The special teams’ numbers aren’t where we want them to be, but we’re winning games, so we’re playing good 5-on-5.”

It’s essentially the same roster during the second half of last season with the younger players, most notably Lindblom and Patrick, a little more experienced now. A better indication of their scoring balance is that, according to Corsica Hockey, the Flyers have tallied 40 even-strength goals, tied for fourth in the league, and they’re starting to dominate at even strength.

Claude Giroux hasn’t budged from the remarkable numbers he put up in 2017-18. In fact, Giroux is currently outpacing his point total from a season ago. The captain is currently on pace for a 106-point season after claiming the NHL’s third star of the week honors. Sean Couturier has also shifted into another gear following a slow start that may have contributed from his delicate workload in training camp.

“I’d say since that Western trip, that’s where it all started,” Couturier said. “As a line I think we moved better, we supported each other and since then that’s when I’ve started to feel pretty good.”  

Two weeks ago, the Flyers were desperate to get van Riemsdyk back on the ice. Now as one of the hottest teams in hockey, it’s a matter of working van Riemsdyk back into a role that works for the entire team without disrupting the cohesion that’s currently working.

“The key for any player is you want to carve out a good role where you’re comfortable and a situation to help the team have success,” van Riemsdyk said. “Especially being a new guy, that’s obviously a process and there’s different combinations that will get tried.”

Right now, it’s definitely a good process to have.

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Jakub Voracek rips into Uber driver for posting video of Senators players

AP Images

Jakub Voracek rips into Uber driver for posting video of Senators players

VOORHEES, N.J. — Jakub Voracek understands there are camera phones lurking around every corner and that privacy rarely exists in today's age of instantaneous information, but that breach of privacy was taken to a whole new level when members of the Senators were videotaped trash-talking the team by an Uber driver in Phoenix, Arizona, during Ottawa's late-October road trip.

“I guarantee that every single person who has a boss, every sports team in the world can guarantee it happens everywhere," Voracek said Wednesday. “And I can guarantee that the coaches behind the door talk about the players. It happens everywhere all the time.

“You go out for a beer, you go out for dinner, it happens. The coaches vent about the players when they go out to dinner about who f---ing sucks, who’s playing bad, who’s playing better. It happens everywhere. So now it comes out, they’re making a big deal. I don’t think they said anything bad, just that their PK and their PP sucks.” 

Most, if not every, Flyers player I talked to had seen the video, which the Ottawa Sun posted.

Who knows exactly what the Uber driver’s motivation was behind posting the video — something comparable to Taxicab Confessions — but what concerns Voracek is how a normal civilian could potentially cash in with damning information.  

“Who gives a s---? He’s a f---ing idiot. Do your job,” Voracek said. “You’re an Uber driver, drive cars. Don’t try to sell copies to make some money. Get the f--- out of here. You know what I mean, he’s a loser.”

After returning Tuesday from Arizona, where the video was apparently shot, the Flyers won’t have to concern themselves about out-of-town Uber rides for a few more weeks with their next road trip coming later this month in Buffalo and Toronto.  

But the incident will certainly serve the Flyers as a reminder that not every conversation between teammates will be a confidential one.

“I guess it's sad about where society is going,” Brian Elliott said. “I think it’s the best thing they could have done was take an Uber out for dinner or out for drinks that night. It’s just kind of sad that it comes out like that. Hopefully, you’ll conduct yourself that you shouldn’t have to watch your back like that, but I’m sure there are situations you want private. That’s the social media world of today.”

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