Jake Voracek used to chafe when the subject of his defense would come up. It was like somebody put a pebble in his skate.
The guy has world-class hands and vision, but too often his game did not extend 200 feet.
Though he struggled at first with new coach Alain Vigneault’s system, he was really playing well when the stoppage hit on March 12.
Plus/minus is one statistic used to measure defensive responsibility. In 2018-19, Voracek was -16. That means opponents scored 16 more goals than the Flyers at even strength or shorthanded when he was on the ice.
This season, he was plus-14.
There were 38 forwards in 2018-19 whose rating was -16 or worse. Voracek’s turnaround to plus-14 is easily the best in the NHL.
“Experience is a big part of it,” Voracek told Inquirer columnist Marcus Hayes prior to the stoppage. “You learn that when you do every little thing right defensively, eventually you’re going to get the looks offensively. That’s what you learn.”
In 2018-19, the Flyers had a goal margin of -37, which works about to about -.45 per game. They were also sixth in the division and a $30 cab ride from a playoff spot.
This year, the Flyers goal margin was +36 - or +.42 goals per game better than their opponent. They finished second in the division and are in the round-robin with a chance to grab the conference’s No. 1 overall seed.
Here’s a look at this year’s key players and their ratings with the Flyers over the last two seasons.
The best single-season plus/minus ratings in NHL history:
The worst single-season plus/minus ratings in NHL history:
The best single-season plus/minus ratings in Flyers’ history:
The worst single-season plus/minus ratings in Flyers’ history: