Flyers Backcheck: Oil Spill on Broad Street

Just when we thought the Flyers couldn’t possibly go and lose to the Florida Panthers, they go and do this. And totally redeem themselves! Jakub Voracek’s pair of goals rocked the boat, with marks from Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Luke Schenn finishing off Tuesday night’s Oil spill in Philadelphia. Clean up on Broad Street! It’s another victory edition of Flyers Backcheck.

Of Course it’s Voracek

We’re kind of running out of adjectives to repeat what’s become obvious. That Jake Voracek sure does try really hard. And by “try,” I mean score.

Voracek extended his lavish point streak to six when he beat Edmonton goalie Viktor Fasth to open up the game’s scoring. Voracek would add another later in the opening period, giving him his sixth multi-point game in 12 games. I don’t mean to brag on the guy, but he is on pace for 123 points this season if the Orange and Black Pack’s calculations are correct.

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His two goals tied him with Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby for the league lead in points with 18 for about an hour, and extended his NHL-leading even-strength point lead to two over Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg.

Crosby’s assist on Patric Hornqvist’s empty-netter in Minnesota reclaimed sole possession of the league’s top spot in points for the Penguins captain. That, however, didn’t bother Voracek one bit.

Although many who cover the Flyers were united in projecting Voracek to truly peacock this season, the team’s glaring potholes pushed the spotlight away from the crazy-haired winger. But after 12 points in 12 games, the attention is now locked on the Flyers’ top line sensation.

It was Voracek who starred tonight, scoring two goals and jumping into a tie with Sidney Crosby for the league scoring lead. Jake has been something of a “best kept secret” for Flyers fans over the past two years – people around the league knew that he was good, but by watching him nightly and delving into the numbers, it was easy for Flyers fans to make a case for him as one of the game’s truly elite wingers. This year, he’s intent on making sure that everyone knows it. — Charlie O’Connor, Broad Street Hockey

Voracek added three blocked shots on 14:12 of ice time to help Philadelphia hand Edmonton their first defeat of the season at the hands of an Eastern Conference team. I must admit that a hat trick would’ve been interesting, if not incredibly awesome. If not to add to Voracek’s gaudy numbers, then to see if any Oilers jersey’s would be mixed into a sea of Flyers hats.

Carlo Colaiacovo Debuts

As the Shayne Gostisbehere grease fire continued to calm, newly signed defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo made his debut with the Flyers on Tuesday night. Skating with Luke Schenn on the team’s third pairing, Colaiacovo entered the tilt not seeing any kind of NHL action since Apr. 13th of last season. With Brandon Manning scratched from the lineup, Colaiacovo was a pleasant surprise for Flyers fans.

“I have been putting in a lot of work the last few days, making sure my legs feel good, my body feels good,” said Colaiacovo on Monday.

With Colaiacovo (say that three times fast) jumping into the lineup with no training camp this season, many believed that Flyers head coach Craig Berube would use the 31-year-old veteran sparingly. And even if he did end up logging the least amount of minutes among Flyers defenseman (16:50), those minutes were enhanced on the penalty kill unit by only three seconds.

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Colaiacovo didn’t have to do much to please fans across social media. All that was asked of the 13-year veteran was simply not to screw up. With the bar set at ground level, Colaiacovo passed the beginner’s test with flying colors.

With Braydon Coburn nearing his imminent return, it should be interesting to see what becomes of Colaiacovo. Especially if he builds upon his first outing in orange and black. But the Flyers are undefeated in the Colaiacovo era, and his partner on the blue line (Luke Schenn) did score his first goal of the season. Coincidence? Probably.

City of Brotherly Love

After a bumpy ride out of the gate, Luke Schenn is seeing better days now. In Philadelphia’s first nine games, The Luke stumbled to the tune of one assist and a minus-eight rating. In his last three games, however, Schenn touts a goal to go along with a plus-two rating.

Two days removed from his 25th birthday, Schenn took the celebration into Tuesday’s game. Sitting on 99 NHL points, the seven-year veteran pounded home a gift wrapped pass from his younger sibling, Brayden, for his first goal of the season. But this wasn’t the first time, even this season, the brothers shared the same scoring line on the stat sheet.

The scoring tandem of Schenn and Schenn first struck on Oct. 19th against the Stars. In Dallas, it was Brayden who celebrated the spoils of lighting the lamp, which made Mama and Papa Schenn quite proud.

“My parents said they were having a couple of high-fives at home watching on TV,” said Luke Schenn. “They joke around before games and say, ‘We’d like to see a Schenn from Schenn goal tonight.’

“Finally we were able to make that happen. It’s an unbelievable feeling. Obviously, I wish it would have happened three years ago or two years ago. But it’s nice to finally connect on one.”

Heading into Tuesday’s matchup, Schenn’s 21 career goals in In 447 NHL games made the odds of his younger brother reciprocating the previous assist to be the antithesis of a sure thing. But at the 12:07 mark of the second period, those odds were defied.

Schenn’s goal was not only significant to him in that his brother was credited for the helper, but also the fact that the brothers shared the moment of Luke collecting his 100th career point.

“It’s funny, we didn’t connect the first two years and this year we already have a couple,” Luke said. “We connected a lot of times as kids growing up in the backyard rink and to do it in the NHL is pretty special.”

Schenn’s goal can be seen in the game’s highlight video below at the 1:00 mark.

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A productive Luke Schenn makes it easier to dispose of the “What if?” in regard to the trade that sent James van Riemsdyk to Toronto for the 6-2 defenseman. Besides, with 37 goals in 12 games, van Riemsdyk’s absence is hardly a blow to the Flyers now.

Tidbits

After enjoying a three game point streak to end the month of October, which included four goals, Michael Raffl was held scoreless for the second straight game. Worse than that, though, is the potential for missed time after blocking a shot from Oilers defenseman Mark Fayne. Raffl exited the game with a plus-two rating on 12:41 of ice time.

“He’s a big part of our line,” said linemate, Jakub Voracek. “He’s playing very well right now and it would be bad if we miss him.”

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After starting the season with an 0-4-1 record, goalie Steve Mason stopped 35 of Edmonton’s 36 shots to earn his first victory of the season. Despite previous battles with the new Wells Fargo Center lighting, Mason adjusted on Tuesday, turning away all four of Edmonton’s power play chances. Craig Berube, who started Mason for the second consecutive game, sees a correlation between a sharp Mason, and the team gaining momentum.

“We killed a couple penalties with Mason making some good saves,” said Berube. “I thought once we killed those, we started to penetrate more. Get pucks in and a little more intensity in the game.

“I thought the first two periods were not casual, but sloppy at times for me, with not enough attack. We had more attack in the third.”

Michael Del Zotto continues to play like a man possessed. And given the latest news leaking out regarding his love life, there’s no pun intended. Del Zotto added another assist on Tuesday, giving him five on the season, in 23:17 of ice time. The 24-year-old blue liner has now turned in 20:00, or more, in six of Philadelphia’s last seven games.

“He’s not getting himself in trouble with the puck,” said Berube. “He’s moving it up, joining the rush, but the big thing for me is he’s defending. He’s defending with his stick well and his body. He’s doing a real good job with that.”

Given the magnitude of recent reports on personal matters, Del Zotto’s outstanding play is even more impressive. Just don’t expect to hear anything on the matter from Del Zotto himself. The former Ranger informed the Flyers that he would leave the room if asked about the off-ice topic by the media.

Nothing wrong with that. Besides, who wants to spoil a Flyers victory day? Probably the team who has to clean up this latest Oil spill.