Jake Voracek has had his share of defensive lapses in past seasons. He has heard about it from fans, he said, and has tried to be more defensively responsible this year.
Asked the other day if he feels he gets a bad rap for his defense, Voracek was his candid self.
“You can’t change people’s mind very often. It’s like a bowling ball. It just rolls and rolls,” the right winger said. “It doesn’t have to happen on a nightly basis. It can just happen once every 10 games, but you just get that picture. That’s just the way it is.”
Voracek probably saved a goal with his backchecking Saturday against Toronto.
“I’ve been focusing on my defense this year,” said Voracek, who has 11 points and a minus-1 rating in the first 13 games entering Tuesday’s matchup against visiting Carolina. “I think I’ve been pretty solid in that, and I still get [flak] for playing [poor] defense. I just have to focus on myself and do it in games.”
Voracek, owner of a minus-16 rating last season, has played up and down the lineup in this year’s first month. Tuesday, for the second straight game, he was on the third line, which was centered by Kevin Hayes.
He had high praise for Hayes.
“He’s a really smart player. Big body. One of the best puck protectors I’ve seen or played with,” Voracek said. “He’s a hell of a player. His instincts are very good, especially on the penalty kill. You can tell the way he thinks the game.”