March was a rough month for the Philadelphia Flyers, who finished with a 6-10-1 record. This included multiple nightmare losses against their rival New York Rangers, the first was 9-0 without the Blueshirts’ coaching staff behind the bench, and the second was 8-3. Their goal-differential for the month was -29 after allowing 75 goals while Philly notched 46.
Many Flyers players should have been better. The goaltending duo of Carter Hart and Brian Elliott needed to be clutch, the defense needed to step up, and they needed more offense. One player who would make an impact if he improved his offense is winger Jakub Voracek. If he can pick up scoring, he could help lead Philadelphia back into the postseason race.
Voracek in Past Seasons
Before the shortened 2019-20 NHL season, Voracek was a consistent scorer. He was acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets in the summer of 2011 in a deal that also included the 8th-overall pick in 2011 (which became Sean Couturier) and a 2011 third-round pick that became forward Nick Cousins for star Jeff Carter. Since he arrived in the City of Brotherly Love, Voracek has produced at a high level that helped bolster players around him. He fit in the lineup perfectly alongside Claude Giroux, Daniel Briere and Wayne Simmonds (also acquired in the summer of 2011).
Between 2011-12 and last season, Voracek hit the 20-goal mark six times, and the Flyers have made the playoffs five times, including last season. He became the face of Philadelphia’s offense and could be relied upon to help carry the load. He has also hit certain milestones, both for the Flyers organization and with his own personal achievements. This included becoming fifth all-time in assists in franchise history and achieving 700 career points in the NHL.
Here are his regular-season numbers with the Flyers up to 2019-20:
- 2011-12: 18 goals and 31 assists for 49 points in 78 games
- 2012-13: 22 goals and 24 assists for 46 points in 48 games
- 2013-14: 23 goals and 39 assists for 62 points in 82 games
- 2014-15: 22 goals and 59 assists for 81 points in 82 games
- 2015-16: 11 goals and 44 assists for 55 points in 73 games
- 2016-17: 20 goals and 41 assists for 61 points in 82 games
- 2017-18: 20 goals and 65 assists for 85 points in 82 games
- 2018-19: 20 goals and 46 assists for 66 points in 78 games
- 2019-20: 12 goals and 44 assists for 56 points in 69 games
Despite 2015-16 and 2019-20, because of the COVID-19 pandemic work stoppage, whenever goals were needed, Voracek provided them.
Getting Back to Form
Somewhere along the line, between the end of 2018-19 and this season, Voracek’s goal-scoring started to drop. Right now, he doesn’t have the same ability as he had earlier on in his Flyers career.
As noted above, he hit 20 goals in three straight seasons from 2016-17 to 2018-19. We cannot be sure how the rest of his season would have fared before the NHL hiatus in 2019-20, but based on point projections for a full 82-game schedule, he would’ve finished with only 14 goals.
This season, he’s continued on the same trend. Voracek has put up six goals and 25 assists in 35 games. Over a projected 82-game schedule, he is on pace for another 14-goal season.
Is he almost a point-per-game player this season? Yes. However, his six goals are not like him. Granted, there was no real training camp and no preseason, but every NHL player is going through that same scenario, so it doesn’t really explain his lack of production.
Flyers Need Voracek
As things stand, many Flyers need to step up. The offense disappeared for parts of March when they could have won some close games. Losses like the two against the Rangers or the 6-1 defeat at the hands of the New York Islanders might have still been losses even with stronger offensive production, but the team also might have ended up on the other side of tight matchups. Of the 11 losses in the month, six of them were by one or two goals. If the 20-goal-per-season Voracek was out there, he could have helped turn those losses into wins, and we might be talking about the team a little differently in early April.
The Flyers are in sixth place in the MassMutual East Division with 41 points, behind the Washington Capitals, Islanders, Pittsburgh Penguins, Boston Bruins, and Rangers (tied with Philly). They are five points behind the fourth-place Bruins (who have 46) in the fight for a playoff spot.
Philadelphia has a tall task ahead of them if they want to make the playoffs. It is going to take strong performances from the whole team, but it will be easier if Voracek returns to form and lights the lamp in clutch circumstances to help boost the offense during the final stretch.