By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor
The Flyers lineup got a boost when Jake Voracek returned to the lineup after missing two games with injury on Saturday and prompted had two assists in the team's 5-2 win over the Islanders. His return, however, was marred by a third-period interference major.
Voracek was given a two-game suspension as a result, the NHL's Department of Player Safety announced on Sunday. This will force Voracek to miss Monday's game against the Ottawa Senators and Thursday's game against the Washington Capitals.
The incident occurred in the third period of the Flyers win on Saturday, with Voracek appearing to brace himself for a hit from behind by Johnny Boychuk. Boychuk collides with Voracek and falls to the ice. He was down for a while following the incident holding his shoulder, but also pointed to Voracek as he skated to the locker room.
At the time, Voracek was assessed a five-minute major for interference as Boychuk exited the game and did not return. Voracek's explanation of the incident from the official's differs greatly from the explanation for suspension, given by the Department of Player Safety.
"The explanation I got was if I hit him in the head, it would be a game [misconduct]," Voracek said after the game. "I don't know why I got five. I try to protect myself, to be honest, maybe the puck was a little further than I thought — I thought the puck was close to me."
"With both players still some distance away from the puck, Voracek sees Boychuk approaching with speed, and, ignoring the puck entirely, cuts sharply into Boychuk's path, driving his upper back into Boychuk's head and knocking him to the ice. This is interference," the NHL's Department of Player Service explanation states. "Players establishing positioning around the board often initiate body contact with their back to keep their opponent away from the puck and to protect themselves from being hit into the boards. Depending on the force of the contact and the way in which it is initiated, this type of contact is often permitted or can be sufficiently penalized by the on-ice officials.
"What causes this hit to rise to the level of supplemental discipline is the distance both players are from the puck, the substantial contact with Boychuk's head, and the force of the hit. When Voracek initiates this hit, he and Boychuk are at the hashmarks while the puck is at the goal line. There is no reason for any player in Boychuk's position to anticipate contact of any kind, let alone a forceful hit to the head by an opponent's back. This is not a case in which Voracek is protecting a puck in his possession from an approaching checker and both players are aware that body contact may occur. This is a case in which Voracek initiates high forceful contact on an unsuspecting player who is not in possession of the puck and is not eligible to be checked in any fashion."
It's also fair to note that Voracek has no prior suspension or history with the league for supplemental discipline. The full video from the Department of Player Safety can be seen below.
Voracek has 18 goals and 43 assists for 61 points in 66 games. Voracek also has 11 points on a current five-game points streak.
The Flyers are back on Monday night to face the Ottawa Senators.