PRAGUE, Czech Republic – So much was said and written about Jake Voracek’s return to his native country that anything less than a win in the Flyers’ opener would have been a big disappointment.
But the Flyers came through with a 4-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday night and that made for a lot of smiles.
“I think it was an amazing experience,’’ Voracek said of the soldout O2 Arena. “I think it was a good game for the fans. Chicago plays a fun style of hockey.’’
Travis Konecny said he was glad Voracek’s return had a happy ending.
“It was pretty special to come over here for Jake,’’ he said. “I’m sure it’s his dream to play in front of fans and family. And it’s great for the NHL. It’s good for everybody.
“And it’s pretty cool for me. I have some family over here so it wasn’t as special as it was for Jake but my dad and my grandad were excited.’’
It was billed as one of those “team bonding’’ experiences and to Oskar Lindblom’s way of thinking, it was a success.
“We had a week over here and it was great to get together,’’ he said. “It was a great trip and a great first win here.’’
Did the experience exceed Voracek’s expectations?
“A hundred percent,’’ Voracek said. “I think everybody had a good time. We had fun as a team. The guys enjoyed sight-seeing. It was a great thing for us and tonight I think we showed what we are capable of.’’
Captain Claude Giroux likes the way his team responded after a rather rocky preseason.
“The practice (on Thursday) was soldout,’’ Giroux pointed out. “Last night we went out to dinner and there were Flyers fans everywhere. The whole experience has been awesome and winning the game, it’s even more special.’’
>All four lines contribute
For the first game, all four lines made contributions, including a goal from fourth-liner Michael Raffl.
“They played well,’’ Giroux said. “And we were consistent in what we were doing. Everybody was doing the same thing. ‘Coots’ (Sean Couturier) line played well. I think offensively they controlled the game a lot (two goals by Travis Konecny, one from Oskar Lindblom). I think every line did a good job.’’
Kevin Hayes said he’s not surprised the fourth line was getting 10-11 minutes. Hayes played four years for Vigneault when the two were with the New York Rangers and Hayes knows that the coach likes to use all his resources.
“I’m used to that,’’ Hayes said. “I was with him for four years. He likes his 12 guys and his six D. If everyone is playing the right way, everyone is going to play. It’s good. . .it’s accountability. When you have guys on your fourth line playing well, it makes sure the guys on the three, two and one lines play well above them.
“It’s friendly competition that allows the team to be successful.’’