Breaking News Adrian Peterson must stay away from Vikings until legal issues are resolved ×

Jan 8, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Flyers left wing Michael Raffl (12) celebrates his goal against Montreal Canadiens goalie Peter Budaj (30) during the second period at the Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Raffl: Race To The First Line

Last season, Michael Raffl just missed the Flyers opening day roster. This year, Raffl has a spot on the Flyers and has a chance to move up once again.

Michael Raffl Tale of the Tape:

  • Age: 25
  • Position: Left Wing
  • Height: 6’0″
  • Weight: 190 lbs
  • NHL Experience: One year
  • 2013-14 Stats: 68 games played, 9 goals, 13 assists, 22 points

Raffl spent a small part of the 2013-14 season with the Phantoms and earned a permanent spot in the lineup in late November. Raffl had made the team, but he never found a consistent spot on the depth chart. Craig Berube shuffled Raffl up and down the lineup, but the versatile Raffl never looked out of place.

If he played a checking-line role, he shutdown the other team’s best players. If Berube placed him on the top line, he used his physical play to create space for Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek. If he was demoted to the fourth line, Raffl made the sure the opposition never overlooked the lowest unit on the ice.

Despite going up and down the linup, along with having to adjust on the fly to the smaller and faster North-American game and playing less than 13 minutes a night,  Raffl put up 22 points.

During his brief stint on the first line, Raffl caught fire. He scored 10 points – two goals, eight assists – in 14 games in the month of December. Through the next four months – from January to April – Raffl only totaled 11 points.

He ranked fifth on the team in CorsiRel with 5.2, finishing behind Voracek, Giroux, Scott Hartnell and Kimmo Timonen. His penalties taken-penalties drawn ratio was even, so he runs a low risk of putting the team on the penalty kill.

Steve Coates sat down with Berube discuss what players could make the greatest impact on the first line. Berube mentioned how Raffl’s style of play differed from that of the departed.

[Raffl is] more of a puck possession guy. Can’t score as good as Hartnell but does some other good things as well. -Craig Berube

Raffl’s greatest asset are his instincts. Raffl knows where to be when he is in the offensive zone. His inability to finish is what is keeping him from becoming a 20-goal scorer.

Last season, he had several opportunities to bury the puck and could not finish. Raffl needs to improve if he wants to grab a consistent spot on the top line. Giroux and Voracek are pass-first players who need a goal scorer on their line.

A year in the NHL did some good for Michael Raffl. Going into this season, he does not have to worry about making adjustments to a smaller rink. Raffl’s style of play does suit the top line well. His physical play fits right into the same mold and style as Hartnell. Raffl’s instincts are what put him in the thick of this competition for the first line.

SCO

Tags: Michael Raffl Philadelphia Flyers

comments powered by Disqus