Philadelphia’s Jakub Voracek is off to a flying start but he is a long way from NHL scoring title

Czech has three-quarters of the NHL season remaining to sustain his impressive rise but at seven goals and 22 assists for 29 points, he is tied with the man favoured to win the scoring title, Sidney Crosby, writes Gregg Patton.
Jakub Voracek, left, of the Philadelphia Flyers takes the puck as Alexander Wennberg of the Columbus Blue Jackets defends on November 22, 2014 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Elsa/Getty Images/AFP
Jakub Voracek, left, of the Philadelphia Flyers takes the puck as Alexander Wennberg of the Columbus Blue Jackets defends on November 22, 2014 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Elsa/Getty Images/AFP

It is not how you start, it is how you finish.

That certainly applies to individual performances in professional sports, as relatively unknown right winger Jakub Voracek of the Philadelphia Flyers will learn.

The Czech has three-quarters of the NHL season remaining to sustain his impressive rise to the top of the league leaderboard. With seven goals and 22 assists for 29 points, he is tied with the man favoured to win the scoring title, Sidney Crosby.

The good news for Voracek, 25, and the Flyers is that his productive start may be less about a flukey streak and more about a talented young player changing his off-ice, off-season habits to improve his game.

Last summer, Voracek tried a leaner diet and a heavier cardiovascular workout to lose weight, and came back at a trimmer and fitter 6ft 2 ins, 97kgs

“I feel quicker, like from a standing spot,” Voracek told the website, Bleacher Report. “It’s the biggest difference for me because I have more time to make things happen.”

That could explain the boatload of assists, an ability Voracek already had when he broke in as a 19-year-old with the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2008.

RJ Umberger, who played with Voracek in Columbus and has reunited with him in Philly, said the best thing a teammate can do when Voracek is on the ice is “get the puck to him. He finds people.”

At his current pace, Voracek would finish with 119 points, challenging Mark Recchi’s team record 123 points.

But it is a little silly to project from a 20-game subset, or compare points from this lower-scoring era to Recchi’s 1992-93 mark.

Not surprisingly, scoring titles and records aren’t something he wants to talk about.

“I don’t look at stats like that,” he told CSNPhilly. “I try to generate so many scoring chances, shoot the puck, help the team win. I don’t get carried away (with numbers.) Not even a little bit.”

Barring injury, he appears sure, at least, to top his career best 2013-14 season of 62 points (23 goals, 39 assists)

Voracek’s energetic start has not boosted erratic Philly into play-off contention. But if the Flyers can shore up a leaky defence, they do have a dependable, one-two scoring punch.

Star centre Claude Giroux’s 24 points are good for fifth in the league.

Voracek impressed at least one of his ex-teammates in a win last week, after the former Jacket collected a pair of assists at Columbus.

Blue Jackets Jared Bell remembered a “skinny” Voracek. “You could see the potential then,” said Bell. “In Philly, he kind of took off. He’s in good shape now.”

In five months, of course, we will know more.

sports@thenational.ae

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Published: November 25, 2014 04:00 AM

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