Better With Popcorn

Last April he was a Dog, This April he is a hero: Voracek Wins Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals

Ten months ago, the majority of Philadelphia Flyers fans had no idea who Jakub Voracek was.

Fast forward to Wednesday night and every single one of them rose in unison to scream his name.

Following a dramatic three-goal comeback, it was Voracek who won Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals for Philadelphia by cementing the 4-3 final with his goal 2:23 into overtime.

It capped off a string of four unanswered goals by the Flyers.

The team now holds a 1-0 series lead over their hated rivals to the West, the Pittsburgh Penguins.

In his first playoff game since 2009, it was Voracek who played the role of hero regaining home ice advantage for the Flyers.

The play originated off a shot from Matt Carle, which Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury deflected the puck off to the side. Although Fleury stopped the shot, he left a rebound sitting in front of the crease.

Hiding behind the goal line unguarded, Voracek snuck in and ended the game.

It is his third game-winning goal of the season, the seventh of his career and the biggest of his life.

Paired with Eric Wellwood and Matt Read on an unusually talented fourth line, Voracek and his partners are capable of playing a two-way game that presents challenges for their opponents in both the offensive and defensive zone.

For Voracek, the road to this point was a rocky one.

The only active roster piece involved in the Jeff Carter trade from this past offseason, Voracek left Columbus under less than ideal circumstances.

Obviously, Carter was a popular player, Sean Couturier had yet to be drafted and for Voracek coming into Philadelphia as a virtual unknown, he had to win over the fan base or face scrutiny as the disappointing reminder of the player lost in the deal.

Not to mention that his old club didn’t do him any favors in the credibility department.

His old coach, Scott Arniel questioned his work ethic and endurance.

"The biggest thing that is holding (Voracek) back is his conditioning," Arniel told the Columbus Dispatch last April. "I think this guy can be an elite player in this league if he gets himself in shape."

Thus far, he’s looking pretty good this April.

In fact, Voracek has largely played well throughout the entire season.

Registering 49 points this season, he set a career high in goals with 18 and recorded 31 assists. He has now registered 30 or more assists in three consecutive seasons.

A strong skater with a large frame, he has proven that it is difficult to get the puck away from him.

Often bouncing around the bottom six, as well as finding a spot for himself on the point on the first power play unit, Voracek has made the most of his opportunities.

None larger than the opportunity that he was presented on Wednesday night.

One year ago, Voracek was called into question for his desire to play the game. Now, he is a hero who potentially has turned this pivotal first round series on its head.

Considering the Penguins where largely praised for the depth of their star-studded roster coming into this game, Voracek was the perfect candidate to deliver the message that the Flyers have depth too and they plan on using it to win this series.


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