VOORHEES – Initially, Jake Voracek called the incident something out of Wrestlemania but over the last couple days it’s turned into something more like Law & Order.
On Monday, a day after Voracek was suspended two games for a collision with New York Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk during Saturday night’s game resulting in a five-minute major interference call, the Flyers announced they will appeal on Tuesday in New York in an attempt to cut the penalty to one game.
Voracek has to sit out Monday night’s home game against the Ottawa Senators.
The 29-year-old Czech did not practice on Monday and was unavailable for comment.
From coach Scott Gordon to veteran defenseman Andrew MacDonald, the Flyers gave the impression they didn’t think the suspension, the first of Voracek’s career, was warranted.
“I’m obviously disappointed,’’ Gordon said after Monday morning’s pre-game practice at the Skate Zone. “In the big picture of things, I think the hit on ‘Patty’ (Nolan Patrick) was more severe, more intention than what Jake was trying to do.
“I think Jake was trying to protect himself. Guy’s sprinting down the boards, has no intention of slowing down, sees Jake in front of him, never slows down and Jake’s just not going to stand there and absorb the hit.
“As it was, he (Boychuk) started above the top of the hashmark and by the time the contact was on, he intended up below the hashmark. I don’t think there was a lot of force on Jake’s end of it as much as the force of Boychuk going into Jake, pushing him back the other way. Boychuk is a bigger man, so Jake probably received the worst of the hit.’’
Needless to say, all of these last 14 games are extremely crucial for the Flyers’ slim playoff hopes. So getting him back for Thursday night’s home game against Washington would be big.
Some of the players said they couldn’t find fault with Voracek’s actions on the Boychuk play.
“I don’t think there was any intent for Jake to hurt him,’’ MacDonald said. “It was just a reactionary thing.
“I just don’t think he liked the gesture going off the ice (Boychuk pointed at Voracek in menacing fashion). There’s a guy bearing down on him, Jake is shielding the puck, which he does well.’’
General manager Chuck Fletcher will sit in when Voracek pleads his case to NHL officials. Fletcher declined to comment prior to Monday night’s game.
Because this is Voracek’s first suspension in a decade-long career, he might have a case.
“It’s a tough play,’’ Sean Couturier said. “I guess all you want is a little more consistency (in the calls). I think everyone kind of wants that. Sometimes we’re on the good side, sometimes we’re on the bad side.
“I think it’s maybe one of those plays where Jake misjudged the rim (the puck circling the boards), but those plays happen all the time.’’
According to the Islanders, Boychuk is not scheduled to play in Monday night’s game against Columbus.
>Hart to back up Monday night, play one of next two
Rookie goalie Carter Hart (ankle), who hasn’t played since Feb. 21 (ankle), is scheduled to back up starter Brian Elliott on Monday night against Ottawa and then will start either against Washington or at Toronto on Friday.
Gordon doesn’t want to pull the plug on Elliott, who is 4-1-1 since taking over the majority of the starts after Hart got injured.
Was there a temptation to use Hart on Monday night because Ottawa has the fewest points in the NHL?
“He (Elliott) has played some pretty good hockey for us since he’s been back from his injury,’’ Gordon said. “At this point now, he’s playing really well. I just can’t take him out of the lineup because of a perceived lesser opponent, because I don’t feel that way.
“Like I said to the players, we’re playing on a nightly basis, we’re playing Montreal and Columbus (the teams battling the Flyers for the last wild card spot). We have to treat it like that.’’
Hart has been practicing for a week, so there are no medical issues at stake here.
“It definitely feels good (to get back into action),’’ Hart said. “I’m just excited to get back in the lineup tonight, dress and be part of the boys again.’’