Misha Vorobyev is getting another chance to show he is NHL-ready.
The Flyers (16-7-5) recalled the center from the AHL’s Phantoms on Wednesday to replace Michael Raffl, who is expected to miss a month with a broken right pinky, suffered in their closer-than-it-looks 6-1 win Tuesday over Toronto. Raffl had been averaging 12 minutes, 9 seconds of ice time.
It’s the third time Vorobyev has been recalled this season, and fifth time in the last two years. At Wednesday’s practice in Voorhees, he centered James van Riemsdyk and Tyler Pitlick on the fourth line.
After practice, coach Alain Vigneault, whose team has won a season-high five consecutive games, said he wasn’t sure if Vorobyev would play Thursday against visiting Arizona (16-9-4) or if he would instead use seven defensemen.
“That fourth line had been playing some good hockey for us. They’ve been very dependable,” Vigneault said. “I was very confident putting them on the ice in any situation, and [Raffl] was doing a good job taking draws and winning quite a few faceoffs, especially on his left side. Five-on-five, I was happy with his play and his line’s play, and on the penalty kill he was part of our rotation. This will give an opportunity for somebody else."
Vigneault said Joel Farabee, a 19-year-old rookie, would probably get time Thursday on the penalty kill, which has been successful on 89.7% of its chances over the last 21 games.
Vorobyev, 22, had 14 points (five goals, nine assists) in 19 games with the Phantoms this season. In six games with the Flyers this season, he had no goals and an assist.
A fourth-round selection in the 2015 draft, Vorobyev has played 21 career games (one goal, two assists) with the Flyers.
“Misha is a very good player. He’s a very smart player,” said Pitlick, who played a few games with Vorobyev earlier in the season. “It’s just a matter of getting comfortable with each other and knowing what each other is going to do. Play a simple game.
"Things are going good right now, so I think it should be a little easier for him to step in. It was a little harder in the beginning of the year because things weren’t clicking [for the team] as well as they are now.”
Van Riemsdyk didn’t play on Vorobyev’s line this season but was with him a bit last year.
“You could see some of his playmaking ability and his hockey sense,” he said. “Losing Raf [hurts]. He’s been playing some good hockey for us, and he’s a big part of our team. But it’s an opportunity for a guy to come in.”
Scott Laughton said Raffl plays a hard-nosed game and provides a strong presence in the locker room.
“But that’s what good teams do. When one guy goes out, another guy filters in, and there’s not a big change,” Laughton said. “That’s what we need.”
Raffl, 31, was goal-less in his last 19 games. Overall, he had three goals and six assists in 28 games this season and was a solid penalty killer.
Brian Elliott, who is 7-2-2 with a 2.70 goals-against average and .916 save percentage, will get the start against Rick Tocchet’s Coyotes. ... In November, Elliott was 4-0-2 with 2.38 GAA and a .926 save percentage. ... The Flyers are on a 7-0-4 run at home, and they are 9-1-4 at home this season. Arizona is 9-3-3 on the road, where it has at least a point in nine of its last 10 games. ... Nick Schmaltz leads Arizona with 20 points, and Phil Kessel has just four goals and a minus-14 rating in 29 games. ... Despite their recent success — they went 10-2-4 in November — the Flyers had their lowest home crowd of the season (15,811) Tuesday against Toronto. ... Raffl was placed on the long-term injured-reserve list. ... Nolan Patrick skated for the sixth time in the last seven days.