Center Mikhail “Misha” Vorobyev, unimpressive in a brief stint with the Flyers at the start of the season, returned to the club Sunday and will be in the lineup Monday against visiting Winnipeg, a physical and talented team.
After an eight-day break because of a bye and the All-Star Game, the Flyers practiced in Voorhees on Sunday, and Vorobyev centered the fourth line, which had Phil Varone and Michael Raffl as his wingers.
“This is another chance for me,” Vorobyev said. “I want to stay in the NHL.”
Vorobyev, 22, was recalled from the AHL’s Phantoms, and veteran Dale Weise was demoted to Lehigh Valley.
In 32 games with the Phantoms, Vorobyev had 22 points (six goals, 16 assists), including four over his last two contests. He said he “moved my feet much more” and limited his turnovers during his latest stint with Lehigh Valley.
Scott Gordon, the Flyers’ interim coach, liked what he saw from Vorobyev with the Phantoms last season. Before that, he had played in Russia’s KHL for two seasons.
“The first half of last year was an adjustment for him, as far as the smaller ice surface and the importance of support on the puck,” Gordon said. “As the season went on, I found him, prior to his injury in March, to be one of our best forwards. ... He’s a great passer and has great vision. That’s what I saw in training camp this year, and I think that got away from him as he stopped playing as much as he did in training camp. It was a slow process for him to get it back, but by all accounts, it seems he’s gotten back to that.”
“He’s so good with his stick, passing-wise,” defenseman Robert Hagg said. “It’s ridiculous, actually.”
Vorobyev, a fourth-round selection in the 2015 draft, played seven games with the Flyers early in the season, collecting a goal and an assist, but the team was not happy with his work ethic.
“I think he just gets into a habit of not skating,” Gordon said. “That’s not work ethic. I think it’s just a habit, because I’ve seen him work as hard as anybody in practices.”
Sean Couturier, who leads the Flyers with 19 goals, said Vorobyev “is a really talented kid. He’s got a lot of skill, and if he puts in the work and the effort in his game, I think he’ll be a pretty good player for us.”
Being reunited with Gordon, Vorobyev said, will make him feel comfortable.
“I know what he wants from players on the ice . ... and I’m going to do everything he says,” said Vorobyev, who had Dave Hakstol as his head coach during his early-season stint with the Flyers.
The Flyers (19-23-6) won their last three games before their break; they will play three games in the next four nights.
In order to not have the layoff end the momentum they had created, “we have to keep it simple, especially the first period [Monday],” Hagg said. “You can’t try to do anything crazy. Winnipeg is going to feel the same thing we do. Maybe even worse because they have to travel.”
During the break, “we got a chance to recharge our batteries, and hopefully it helps,” winger Jake Voracek said.
The last time the Flyers had a stoppage, they had won three of four before the Christmas break, then lost eight straight after they returned.