The Flyers went into the break as the NHL’s hottest team, and they’ve come out of it even hotter. With 11 wins out of their last 12 after back-to-back victories in the round-robin games, the Flyers look as dangerous as they ever have. But in the team’s final round-robin game against a similarly impressive Tampa Bay team, they’ll be without Jake Voracek.
There hasn’t been a lot of information disclosed on his absence, but we do know this is a massive hit to take. Jake Voracek had 56 points in 69 games this season, amassing a +14 rating in the process. The veteran then picked up where he left off with a nice assist against Boston. Outside of the last game before the break, Voracek was riding a six-game streak of assists, with a whopping 10 spread across those crucial wins. Losing someone with so much production stings massively, but how will AV negate the loss?
Arise, Sir Joel
Vigneault spoke to reporters on Friday to discuss the upcoming line changes.
James is back in the lineup tomorrow. He will be back with Derek and Kube on the right side. That’s because we moved Joel up with Coots and G because Jakey won’t be available for tomorrow’s game.
The lines should look like this:
Claude Giroux Sean Couturier Joel Farabee
Scott Laughton Kevin Hayes Travis Konecny
James van Riemsdyk Derek Grant Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Connor Bunnaman Nate Thompson Tyler Pitlick
Farabee being bumped up the order is significant. The 20-year-old got his first taste of playoff action against Washington, logging 11 minutes on the ice and a -1 rating.
The Flyers initially called him up on October 20th after watching him start his first professional season with the Phantoms in an explosive fashion, scoring a goal in each of his first three games. It didn’t take long for Farabee to make a dent at the NHL level either. 3 days after his NHL debut, he scored his first NHL point, before scoring his first goal one week later against the Devils. A four-game scoring streak was kickstarted shortly after and Farabee never looked back. In 52 games for the Flyers, Farabee amassed 8 goals and 13 assists, with a +6 rating. This will be a huge opportunity for the 2018 14th overall pick.
Under the radar
Connor Bunnaman should also see some significant ice time after working his first 17 postseason shifts in the win over Washington. Taking the place of JVR, Bunnaman looked strong and was a key part in the line that suffocated the prolific Alex Ovechkin, holding him scoreless and drawing the praise from his Head Coach.
I thought Bunny when we called upon him during the season gave us very good speed, good physicality along the wall, could play left wing, could play in the middle. I thought with Nate and Tyler that would be a hard line to play against. Good speed. Good physicality. For a good portion of the game last night, they ended up playing against Washington’s top line, a big physical line with Ovi. I thought they handled themselves real well. Wanted to get a look at him with Raffy obviously not being available right now.
With him and Kube playing their first game, they’re both going to play again tomorrow.
Special teams without Jake Voracek
The Flyers’ special teams have left fans purring in recent times and keeping Washington off the board only added to that. Without Voracek in the group though, the Flyers will need to find some spice from elsewhere. AV doesn’t seem too worried, which can only be a good sign.
We did a great job against Washington’s power play. We did a great job against Boston’s power play. With players being out the amount of time that they were and the pressure that they are seeing from penalty killers, it makes it a little more challenging. We’ve spent a great deal of time on it lately. I think it’s just a matter of time here before we start executing the way we have to and clicking on it. We’ve got some solid players. We mentioned prior to coming into this that our last twenty games, our power play had been one of the better ones in the league. Very confident that this group, whether Jake in or Jake out, will be able to get it done.
Missing Jake Voracek will be troublesome for the Flyers, but they have more than enough depth and potential to get by in the immediate future. Hopefully he’ll be back in the lineup by the first Stanley Cup playoff game.
Photo Credit: Alex Mcintyre