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|Flyers' Mikhail Vorobyev seeing NHL development doesn’t happen easily
18 îêòÿáðÿ 2018 ãîäà. courierpostonline.com. By Dave Isaac
VOORHEES — Scott Laughton can attest better than anyone that the development path to being an NHL regular is anything but linear.
One of his new teammates is finding the same.
Mikhail Vorobyev saw himself move from the third-line center to fourth-line left wing in his sixth game of the season. His seventh won’t come until Saturday afternoon at the earliest as Corban Knight made his Flyers debut in lieu of the Russian rookie Thursday in Columbus.
“It’s definitely a learning curve,” Laughton said. “It helps to go through it a little bit. I went through it for the past however many years. I know what it’s all about and you just gotta be a good guy, good teammate. That’s how you stick around too is being a good teammate and working hard every day and trying to get back in so you can get back in and when you get back in you’re effective. Even if it’s a limited role, trying to play to the best of your ability and going to work every day.”
Laughton has bounced between the Flyers and Lehigh Valley Phantoms a couple times. It doesn’t appear as though Vorobyev is in danger of going back down to the minors, where he was a rookie in the American Hockey League last season. He is still uncomfortable doing interviews in English and the Flyers don’t always have a translator around so getting his input has proved a tall task.
The numbers and the eye test say that a night in the press box is called for…as long as it’s a short trip there.
“Yeah, there’s a balance, but everybody’s developmental path is going to be a little bit different,” coach Dave Hakstol said. “If we feel he needs to come out of the lineup, whether it be (Thursday) or down the road, we’ll bring him out of the lineup. That’s part of learning and part of the experience. There’s different things that it takes to be successful here — the pace, the speed, the ability level there’s no question that he has, the grind that it takes to consistently be ready game in and game out, shift in and shift out. Those are all things that are challenging for a young player. If we feel he needs to come out, he’ll come out and there will be good reason for it.”
Vorobyev, a fourth-round pick in 2015 draft, has centered a line with Wayne Simmonds to start all of his games. He scored a goal in his second game, which was by far the best of his six. He was also impressive opening night against the reigning Western Conference champion Vegas Golden Knights despite the fact that he hasn’t been better than 50 percent in the faceoff dot in any game yet.
Since the Colorado Avalanche game, in which he scored a goal on a gift of a turnover by the home team, things haven’t gone as well. He has been on the wrong side of the shot-attempt battle in each of his last four games and Tuesday’s shootout win over the Florida Panthers was glaring.
After four shifts in the first period, centering Laughton and Simmonds, Vorobyev was moved onto the fourth line. He lacked intensity and ended up losing his man in the defensive zone a couple times before he was moved. After showing endurance from rookie camp through to the end of exhibition play and making the team, Vorobyev looked more disinterested than tired Tuesday night. He wasn’t using his speed to get to loose pucks or to help out on board battles, which centers are expected to do.
When he was moved to a new position he showed a little more pep in his step and actually had more time in the offensive zone. He nearly set up Dale Weise for a goal midway through the game with a nice cross-ice feed, but the next three shifts produced nothing.
“Mish communicates pretty well and he understands the things we’re trying to do and the things that are expected of him,” Hakstol explained. “I’m not gonna get inside his mind and try to predict what he’s feeling in that respect, but he’s feeling his way through the early part of an NHL schedule as a rookie centerman in this league and that’s no easy task. There’s been a couple good games and a lot of good mixed in.”
A night in the press box can be a good reset button, but only if it’s short-lived. Last season Hakstol took Travis Sanheim out of the lineup, justified after several defensive miscues, but kept him out so long the player got stale. When he went back in, he lacked confidence and knew he’d be on a short leash. Eventually he had to go down to the minors to get his game back.
Making that mistake again with Vorobyev would not be wise and when players have more time to think because they’re not playing, it isn’t always a good thing.
“It’s harder mentally,” Laughton said. “I think you start doubting yourself a little bit in your head after long stretches and things like that. At the same time you gotta focus on what you can do to become a better hockey player. I think that’s the biggest thing is working on your craft so when you’re back in you know what you have to do better to help the team.”