Future Hall of Famer Jaromir Jagr never doubted that Jakub Voracek could rank among the NHL’s elite.
“He always had the talent,” Jagr said of his fellow neighbor from Kladno, Czech Republic. Jagr told Voracek when they were Flyers teammates three years ago that he was only limited by himself.
So Jagr isn’t surprised to see Voracek among the NHL’s top league scoring leaders.
Voracek scored an empty-netter during the Flyers' 4-1 win over the Devils (see game recap), giving him 35 points and tying Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby for second place among the NHL scoring leaders.
Dallas Tyler Seguin is first with 36.
The 42-year-old Jagr, who’s been around 21 years, has a pretty fair idea where the 25-year-old’s career is headed after seven years.
“He’s going to be a goal scorer and will have a lot more assists than goals,” Jagr said. “When I see those guys, it’s very tough to cover them. If they are clicking, and they are on the power play and you have G [Claude Giroux] on the side and he is very dangerous.
“And he can make a fast pass. You got Simmer [Wayne Simmonds] in front of the net. He is one of the best there and he has all the rebounds. Heavy shot. You get Jake on the side coming up and down and he sees the play, plus he is playing with G and they help each other. It’s all a matter of doing it over 80 games and not getting injured.”
Voracek, among others, will tell you Jagr had a profound influence on pushing him to the next level. Jagr was the most fit of any Flyer that 2011-12 season. He had his own key to Skate Zone so he could train at odd hours, day and night, which he was obsessed about doing.
His commitment to training rubbed off because Voracek lost nearly 10 pounds over the summer and is slimmer and quicker on his skates and it shows in this year’s on-ice performance.
“I don’t think it’s just my influence,” Jagr said. “I think what helped Jake a lot, in my opinion, he got into better shape than he was before. I don’t think he changed as a player. Maybe he’s got more confidence, but he changed the body. He is in better shape.
“Not that he was in bad shape, but he changed his food he eats. He has more muscle. He weighs lighter … sooner or later if those players are smart enough, they realize it. There’s no secrets. If you have talent you are gonna work if you have a chance to succeed, you gotta have a plan.”
Jagr said the hardest part, as you get older, is having a daily routine or “plan” as he calls it, following it, and realizing that as you get older, the plan will change. There’s one more thing, too.
“Something you believe in,” Jagr said.
The routine means nothing if you are going through motions without believing in it, he said.
“You keep doing it every day,” Jagr said. “It gives you extra strength and extra confidence to know everything to be prepared for the game. You have confidence …
“You go into the game and don’t have to worry about whether this defenseman is playing or if he is any good. Now you depend upon yourself. It doesn’t matter who is going up against me.”
Jagr actually played with Voracek in Europe when the latter was younger and playing for the Blue Jackets in Columbus. The two were teammates on the Czech Republic roster at the World Championships twice and even teammates in Sochi, Russia, last year at the Olympics.
“I [first] played with him on the international team when I was in Russia,” Jagr said, speaking of the 2010 World Championships when Jagr played for the KHL’s Avangard Omsk. “They never make the playoffs in Columbus. He was there. He knew he was going to the World Championships.”
Jagr said he still has one piece of advice for Voracek, in terms of how to become a better player in the league.
“He’s got the size, he’s got the strength,” Jagr said. “It’s up to him. If I were him, I would work a little bit more on my shooting. Wrist shots. That is what I would do. Otherwise, he doesn't have to do anything.
“He is strong one-on-one. A great skater, a powerful skater. He’s a passer, you can see it. If he gets a little better shooting, he will be even more dangerous.”
Coming from Jagr, it’s something Voracek likely will take to heart.
“I’ve made big progress since being with Columbus and taking more shots,” Voracek said. “You have to have that kind of mentality. Jags has what? Seven-hundred goals? He knows what he’s talking about.”
Flyers injured defensive prospect Shayne Gostisbehere was in the press box on Thursday. “I’m feeling great and it’s coming along,” he said.
He has been recovering from a torn ACL in his left knee. Gostisbehere, who was injured on Nov. 7, was examined by Flyers orthopedic surgeon Peter DeLuca between periods. The Flyers expect he will miss several months.
“He’s right on schedule and a month post-surgery,” said general manager Ron Hextall. “He’s doing well and right where the doc hoped he’d be.”
Hextall wasn’t sure when he will skate again.
“He’s a long ways from playing yet but the doc is really happy where he’s at.”
Oldest top line
New Jersey’s unit of Scott Gomez centering Marty Havlat and Jaromir Jagr is 109 years old. Or 110 if you count the months and days. Either way, this has to be the oldest No. 1 line in the NHL.
As @TommiSeppala points out, the closest to them is Vancouver’s top unit of Henrik Sedin centering Radim Vrbata and Daniel Sedin -- 102.