Tag Archives: Jakub Voracek

Jakub Voracek Finding Other Ways To Contribute

10 Jan

Jakub Voracek didn’t really know what to expect. He was traded to Philadelphia from Columbus, where the last year of his entry-level contract was marred by only one point in his final 16 games and coach Scott Arniel calling out the top-six forward for his conditioning, or, apparently, lack thereof.

“It was the worst time in my life in my NHL career,” said Voracek in early November. “Even though it was a tough situation, in [16] games if you are playing on the first or second line you have to be able to get more than one assist, secondary assist. I mean, somehow you’ve got to get it.

“It’s impossible to not have it, but really that time nothing went in and we didn’t play well as a team. I didn’t play well as a player, point-wise, and the season ended that way. But I did everything in the summer to [not] let it happen again.”

Recognizing the fresh start, Voracek went to Montreal to begin working on his conditioning and on his shot. He was one of the last ones to arrive at camp, but that’s no reflection of his work ethic. He wanted to be in top shape when he arrived.

Voracek came with high expectations in Columbus. He was drafted seventh overall in 2007, and the Blue Jackets were hoping for a 20-goal scorer, but he never seemed to pan out. Many there said that he had a problem with work ethic – but that hasn’t been an issue in Philadelphia.

“I think Jake is one of those guys who has been playing better and better and better as the season goes on,” said linemate Danny Briere. “I think when you go from one team to another, there’s a lot at first. You’re trying to get in as far as a system, teammates, how it works, new house, new place. There was a lot of work into that for him at first. Slowly, he’s starting to get more and more comfortable.”

Voracek has gotten comfortable on the second line. He’s gotten comfortable on the penalty kill. He’s gotten comfortable on the power play. The only thing he’s not comfortable doing, apparently, is shooting. And he knows it, too.

“I have a good shot, I just don’t use it,” said Voracek. “So many times I can shoot it and at the last second, the pass comes in my head. If I change it and I be a little more selfish — I don’t mean I won’t pass — but if the pass is not there and I’m not looking for it and I shoot it, that way I can be better at it. It will be better for me and the team.”

Voracek is eighth on the team with 82 shots taken. He has six goals, but two of which were game winners. On the surface, the total seems low, but his game this year has been finding his teammates. He already has 20 assists, nearly halfway through the season. His career-high is 34, and he’s on pace to beat that by seven. His first instinct is simply to pass.

“It’s tough,” said Voracek. “You have the puck, you have a clean shot, then you see a teammate back door or something. Just that little time, you stop thinking about it. Then when you want to shoot the puck, it’s too late.”

The pucks have only gone in a handful of times for Voracek this season, but he’s been effective in other ways. He sees time on both the penalty kill and the first unit on the power play.

“Well, I was prepared to play power play,” said Voracek. “I wasn’t prepared to play penalty kill. Regardless, I’m playing almost 20 minutes a night, which is great. Penalty kill, power play and when you see the coach trusts you, it’s a good sign.”

The knock in Columbus was against Voracek not living up to the hype. Here in Philadelphia he isn’t expected to be a star and, so far, he’s done everything the Flyers have asked of him.

“I always say if the team is playing well, the player is playing well,” said Voracek. “I think we’re playing very solid hockey games. We are four points out of first.

“It’s hard to say. The team’s playing well and I think I’m where I wanted to be. If the coach trusts you and has confidence in you, it’s always a great sign.”

Voracek Seeks Redemption Against Columbus

4 Nov

VOORHEES, N.J. — Sometimes a change of scenery can be the best thing for a player. That’s what Jakub Voracek is hoping. The 22-year-old spent his first three years in Columbus. While he showed flashes of brilliance, his time ended disappointingly. Saturday’s game against the Blue Jackets game has been circled on his calendar since the schedule came out the day he was traded.

“I would lie if I said no,” said Voracek. “I was pretty excited for that game since the season starts. It’s gonna be a great game and I hope it’s gonna end for us well.”

Things didn’t end well in Columbus for Voracek. He was a regular on the top two lines, playing with either R.J. Umberger and Antoine Vermette or Rick Nash and Derick Brassard. However, Voracek recorded only one point in his final 16 games and head coach Scott Arniel called him out.

“The biggest thing that is holding him back is his conditioning,” said Arniel back in April. “I think this guy can be an elite player in this league if he gets himself in shape.”

“I don’t think it’s right to talk about it in the papers,” said Voracek. “It just is what it is. It is what he said, but I have to disagree with him. I went to the World Championship last year and I felt great — all tournament, which was almost in the end of May.

“It was a long season for me as well and physically I felt great, but sometimes if you play bad it doesn’t mean that you’re out of shape. Like I say, it is what it is and I’ve got a new NHL life here.”

He was happy to move on from what was his darkest time in his young NHL career. Voracek took exception to the comments and spent the entire summer in Montreal training for this season.

“It was the worst time in my life in my NHL career,” said Voracek. “Even though it was a tough situation, in [16] games if you are playing on the first or second line you have to be able to get more than one assist, secondary assist. I mean, somehow you’ve got to get it.

“It’s impossible to not have it, but really that time nothing went in and we didn’t play well as a team. I didn’t play well as a player, point-wise and the season ended that way but I did everything in the summer to don’t let it happen again.”

Voracek has moved around in the Flyers’ lineup somewhat, but recently he’s been on a line with James van Riemsdyk and Danny Briere. Although, with injuries to both, that line has changed a few times also. Regardless of whom he plays with on Saturday, he’ll try to add to his two-goal total. He said he has something to prove to his old team.

“Yes, I would say so,” said Voracek. “I mean, it’s another NHL game for me but I’m gonna try to do my best as always and hopefully help the team to win and show them that they made a mistake.”

It sure seems like things won’t end in Philadelphia the same way they did in Columbus. Even though Voracek hasn’t scored since the third game of the season against Vancouver, the coaching staff has his back.

“I think he came in in good shape and he continues to work at it,” said Peter Laviolette. “I said this a couple days ago, he’s working hard both on and off the ice. It appears as though he has a good effort in the games and I think the points will start to come for him. I’m happy with the intensity of which he plays the game. I just think that he’s close.

“When he’s got the puck, he’s a skilled guy, a dangerous guy. If you can get where you want to go with your speed and your compete level, I think it’ll start to show up on the board more for him.”

Voracek Was Unaware Of Headbutt

3 Nov

WELLS FARGO CENTER — Nearly everyone in First Niagra Center knew it, but Jakub Voracek didn’t. The giant force that knocked him back off the puck five minutes into the game Wednesday night was the noggin of Patrick Kaleta.

“I didn’t even know he hit me with the head, to be honest,” said Voracek. “I felt some hit and when I saw it on the replay this morning, I find out he headbutted me.”

It was the third time in his career that Kaleta had done such a thing. He was fined last year for headbutting Travis Zajac. Intent sure seemed to be there, even if Voracek said he wasn’t sure he meant to do it.

“It’s hard to say,” said Voracek. “He only knows if he did it on purpose or not.

“I was battling for the puck and feel some hit. He made a few steps and kind of just kind of hit me in the head. Obviously, the way the league looks at those things right now, it was possible he was going to get suspended.”

The Sabres’ coach didn’t seem to think so.

“He didn’t look at him, he was trying to bully his way into the pileup,” Lindy Ruff told reporters in Buffalo. “I didn’t think there was anything deliberate about it. There is head contact, which I’m pretty sure is what they’re looking [at].”

Brendan Shanahan sure seemed to think intent was there. The league disciplinarian announced that Kaleta would be suspended for four games for the headbutt. It will cost Kaleta $19,621.64. Voracek, who had spent his career to this point in the Western Conference with the Columbus Blue Jackets, wasn’t really aware of Kaleta’s reputation.

“That’s why he’s playing in the NHL, because that’s his style of play,” said Voracek. “For Buffalo, I think that’s a good thing that they have a player like that. You gotta be aware of him.”

Below is the video description of the play from Shanahan:

http://nhl.cdn.neulion.net/u/videocenter/embed.swf

Flyers Ruin Boston’s Party To Open Season

6 Oct

BOSTON — Last year the Flyers ruined the opening of Pittsburgh’s Consol Energy Center with a 3-2 win over the Penguins. On Thursday night, they ruined Boston’s banner-raising ceremony with a 2-1 win over the reigning champs.

The play started out sloppy after the teams had to wait an extra half hour after warmups for the Bruins’ banner-raising ceremony. But the veteran champions woke up and struck first.

Nine minutes into the game Zac Rinaldo was called for a holding the stick penalty. On the Bruins’ man advantage, Brad Marchand was hit with a pass from Tyler Seguin and got behind Kimmo Timonen, went in alone on Ilya Bryzgalov and beat the goalie five-hole on the backhand.

The Flyers looked a little dejected after that, with play reminiscent of the last time they were in TD Garden. But one of their rookies stepped up. Matt Read used some fancy stickwork to get himself in front of the net and drew a slashing penalty on Nathan Horton.

The Flyers had their first shot at the man advantage and much like the preseason, they capitalized. Claude Giroux figured he had seen enough of the sloppy play and took a pass from Jaromir Jagr through the Boston defense, deked out Tim Thomas and scored in spectacular fashion as he was thrown off his skates and followed the puck into the net.

“Jags made a pretty good pass to me and I was able to go around, I think it was Chara, I’m not even sure,” Giroux said. “I just tried to take the puck to the net and I was able to slip it in there.”

It was an early candidate for Goal of the Year, but just as important was the guy that passed it to him. Jagr scored his 1,600th career point with the assist. He is by far the active career points leader. He also has the most career points in season openers, scoring nine goals and 22 assists. No active player is even close to that record either.

Fourty-seven seconds later, the Flyers struck again, stamping their mark on what began as a sloppy night.

With 2.4 seconds left, Jakub Voracek corraled a rebound from an Andrej Meszaros point shot that hit traffic. He turned and fired five-hole on Thomas to give the Flyers a lead with two seconds left in the period.

“Anytime you go in after a period, you want to get that lead goal and I think Voracek got the biggest goal,” Giroux said.

The Flyers had the momentum for much of the second period, but Thomas kept Boston in it. However, the Flyers had to kill penalties by Danny Briere and Wayne Simmonds as the period drew to a close and Bryzgalov started to show why he was a big-ticket goalie in the offseason.

“It was a big night for Boston, but we came here for business, not to celebrate with them,” Bryzgalov said. “We came here to win the game. It’s always tougher to play on the road when the whole crowd’s against you, lots of energy against you. I think we did well and we’ll continue our road trip to New Jersey. We need some points.”

He continued to stand strong in the third where the Flyers were heavily outshot 11-4. The Flyers had to fend off another pair of Bruins’ power plays, but the goalie came up big, despite going long stretches in the game without seeing a shot.

Nathan Horton had an opportunity to tie it midway through the third but he held on to the puck, waiting for the already wide open net to somehow get wider, and Timonen stopped him on the goalline.

Bryzgalov missed only one of the 23 shots he faced in his first game as a Flyer. The orange and black will try to build on their immediate success against division rival New Jersey on Saturday night before their home opener on Wednesday.

Newcomer Jagr Already Has Flyers Connections

18 Sep

VOORHEES, N.J. — When Jakub Voracek was born, Jaromir Jagr was 17. The elder Flyer had already begun his career at the highest level of competition in Czechoslovakia. Both natives of Kladno, Voracek grew up idolizing Jagr.

“I’ve gotta say that he’s probably gonna be pretty uncomfortable when I say that, but I was looking up to him,” now 22-year-old Voracek said. “He’s 17 years older than me, so I was watching him.”

Voracek moved up the ranks and even played for HC Kladno, the same team that Jagr did in his homeland. But that was the closest he thought he would ever get to playing with Jagr.

“Especially after I started in the NHL and he left,” Voracek explained. “I think it was the same year so I was like ‘OK.’ I never thought I was gonna play with him then I played the last two World Championships with him, but I never imagined I would play with him on an NHL team.”

Now the 39-year-old winger returns to the NHL and is ready to prove that he’s still got something left in the tank. After years of being idolized, Jagr is ready to make his Flyers debut simultaneously with Voracek’s.

“It’s pretty impressive,” Voracek said. “Not everyone can play like that at that age. I think it’s great for him and it’s great for the NHL that he’s back and he can still show a lot of people that he can play hockey at this level.”

But that’s not the only connection Jagr has. Michael Nylander may not be his countryman, but the two played together in New York and Washington and enjoyed success together.

Nylander, no spring chicken in his own right at 38, has recovered from a broken neck after a hit last October. He is attending Flyers camp on a tryout, excited to finally get the opportunity to play with Jagr once again.

“Of course,” Nylander told Philly Sports Daily recently. “When I saw what he was gonna do and come here and play — we’ve been trying to play together the last couple years and it never came through.

“I had a great time playing him and hopefully he had a great time playing with me too. Of course, that’s what you think is what could happen in the future and I’m here on a tryout so I want to show that I can still play.”

Jagr remembers their time together fondly as well, and shares the goal of trying to play much younger than his age.

“We played pretty good hockey together,” he recalled. “I came from Russia and Michael signed with the Rangers. It was a totally different league after the lockout. It was the first time there was a salary cap. There were a lot of guys who got the opportunity to show that they can play.

“We’re lucky. We were on the New York Rangers. The team before us, there was so many superstars and so many great players, and they didn’t make the playoffs for the last seven years before us. I think it was our advantage to just show we could play as a team, and I think the first year we had success as a team.”

When they played together in the 2005-06 season, Jagr had 54 goals and 69 assists, the second-highest goal total Jagr has enjoyed in his NHL career. Nylander had 56 helpers that year, second only to the next season in which the pair also played together.

It’s still a strange sight to see Jagr and his No. 68 in orange and black. But already he is getting comfortable in his new Flyers colors. Intentional or not, the Flyers have brought in connectors to Jagr in the form of old blood and new.

If the experiment works, maybe the Flyers can tap into his triumphant past and reap the benefit of the NHL’s active leading point and goal scorer. With that level of success, it doesn’t matter how strange the connection is.

Camp Competition Will Highlight Flyers’ Next Two Weeks

17 Sep

VOORHEES, N.J. — Fans packed the Skate Zone for the Flyers’ first practice of training camp to learn more about the new team. Head coach Peter Laviolette has a lot of learning to do himself. He has seven new players with contracts on his roster, and another two in Michael Nylander and Adam Mair that are on tryouts.

“Last year when we came to camp, it’s not that wasn’t exciting. It was. We were looking to take the next step. But there’s a lot of things that were set in stone,” Laviolette said.

Not so much, these days.

With the additions of Jaromir Jagr, Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn and Jakub Voracek, there are a lot of minutes up for grabs. Add Andreas Lilja into the mix and subtract the time that newly-named captain Chris Pronger will miss, and suddenly the Flyers have a completely different complexion. Oh yeah, there’s also a brand new goalie.

“Today went longer than I expected, longer than I wanted,” Laviolette said, assessing the first day of camp. “There was just a lot of information. From faceoffs, to breakouts, to offense, to cycles, to what it is we’re trying to establish in the offensive zone, there was a lot of stuff, a lot of information.

“Tomorrow will be the same thing. We’ve gotta tighten it up as coaches and present it in a smaller package so that we’re not putting them through so much, but we’re trying to get a lot of information out before those games.”

Despite how many new players have been added, they are somewhat familiar with each other. Many came out for informal, optional workouts over the past few weeks and have skated together.

“I’ve been here about three weeks, so it’s nice to finally have everybody here and skate with the guys and have an organized practice,” said newcomer Max Talbot.

What really needs to develop before any success can be found on the ice, though, is chemistry. That can be hard considering all the new faces around the team.

“They’re gonna get the system. They’ll have a good grasp of what we’re doing by training camp, then we start to play it hard and we start to do it for each other,” Laviolette said. “That’s when you can become really effective. I think there’s a lot that can be done in that area as well as far as building a team.”

Once that happens, Laviolette will be tasked with finding the best roles for all the talent he has in front of him. But just because there are new faces, doesn’t mean that the team’s goals have changed.

“There’s high expectations, that’s for sure,” Talbot said. “But I think people understand that we have a lot of new personnel and you never know what to expect with a team like that.

“There’s a new system for some guys and that’s what we’ve been working on today for Day 1, but you don’t come in Philly and don’t expect to win. This team always expects to win and they made a change to win and we’re all gonna be ready to win.”

If they expect to win, part of the equation will be replacing the 59 goals that left the team in the form of Mike Richards and Jeff Carter. The Flyers will have to score by committee, but there isn’t pressure for any one player to try and do it himself.

“I’m gonna work as hard as I can and the points and goals will eventually come,” Jakub Voracek said. “Last year, I don’t think that 46 points is where I need to be. It’s a fresh start for me and I’m excited and had a very good summer, offseason and I hope I’m going to go up points-wise and help the team to win.”

For the next two weeks, the Flyers will have a lot of practice time, but more valuable will be the seven preseason games. Then the roster will start to show its new look along with which players will pair together and who will see the bulk of the time.

“It’s gonna go from the first preseason game to the last one,” Claude Giroux said. “Whoever deserves to have that ice time will get it. It’s obviously an extra motivation.”

Flyers Re-Sign Jakub Voracek To One-Year Deal

1 Jul

The signing of Jaromir Jagr suggests the Flyers may not have much more money to play around with after signing their restricted free agents. They took care of some of that by signing Jakub Voracek to a one-year, $2.25 million contract.

Voracek and Jagr played together with the Czech Republic National Team in the 2011 IIHF World Championship team that won the bronze medal. He had a goal and two assists in nine games during the tournament.

The 21-year-old left-handed shot works the boards and has great passing abilities, but isn’t the complete package quite yet.

“I’m an up and down winger and try to play the best on both ends,” Voracek said in a conference call with reporters last week. “Obviously I’ve got to work on my shot a little more this offseason.”

In 80 games last season with the Columbus Blue Jackets, he scored 14 goals and 32 assists. But there is a thought that he could turn into more.