TAMPA – Since the Flyers signed Michael Raffl to a free agent contract back in May, I’ve been touting him on this blog as a legit prospect who would not only make the team out of camp but have an impact on the season.
Technically, he didn’t make the team out of camp, missing the first five games while in the AHL, nor has he had a real impact yet.
So if you say today that I was wrong, then I must say that I am guilty as charged.
If you are willing to give it more time to see if, in fact, Raffl can still have a decent impact on the team this season, then I will say the verdict is still out on my assessment of him – and it should be.(Click "Full Story" for more...)
SUNRISE, Fla. – When the Flyers arrive in Tampa tomorrow in preparation for their game Wednesday night against the Lightning, all the attention will be on the homecoming for Vinny Lecavalier.
Amidst all that hullaballoo, it’s a good bet that Steve Downie will steal off down the hallway to go chat with Lightning captain Martin St. Louis.
After all, it was St. Louis who Downie credits as the guy who showed him how to mature and play the right way in hockey.
“As you get older and learn the game you mature as a player,” Downie said. “When I came up with Philly, it was a tough lineup to break into but I played the role even though I didn’t get much ice. When I got traded to Tampa I was given more of an opportunity and I got to play with some great players.
“Marty helped me out a lot. When you get the opportunity to be around great players, you can’t help but get better.”(Click "Full Story" for more...)
PHILADELPHIA – There have been a lot of buzzwords around the Flyers during this run of good play that has made the rounds.
Skating. Yep, that’s important.
Play without the puck. The key to good defense, gotcha.
Accountability – Players have jobs and roles and they are being held responsible for them, which brings a certain amount of pride in your work because you are doing what you’re told.
Repetition – Have you been to a Craig Berube practice? It plays like shampoo directions: Rinse, wash, repeat.
Consistency – Ahh, there’s an interesting one. Let’s delve into this one shall we?(Click "Full Story" for more..)
Well, they didn’t like not being in the lineup – that’s a given. But aside from that there was one other thing that was really unpleasant.
“You have to work harder than everyone else just to get back in,” said Gustafsson, referring to the intense skating workouts that scratched players go through as they spend a good 30 minutes longer on the ice after practices than the guys in the lineup. “You don’t want to have to do that too long.”
No, you don’t, which is why Gustafsson and Schenn talked about their lot, sitting in the press box in Carolina earlier this month.(Click "Full Story" for more...)
PHILADELPHIA – As much as Craig Berube has preached for his forwards to get back and help his defense, he has equally been pushing for the defense to jump up and help the offense.
While the former seemed to come together pretty quickly, the latter is still a work in progress… but it’s definitely been better.
“When I took over that was one of the things I really stressed – getting the defense involved in the rush and on breakouts and skating up ice,” Berube said. “That helps both the attack and the breakouts. When you have guys like [Mark] Streit and Kimmo [Timonen] and [Erik] Gustafsson… all of them really. It doesn’t matter how skilled you are or fast you are – get up there. When other teams see four guys coming on the rush it backs them off.”(Click "Full Story" for more...)
VOORHEES, N.J. – Adam Hall has always been a go-to guy in the faceoff circle. But what he’s been doing lately has been epic.
His last 35 draws, he’s won 30 of them. Think about that a sec. He’s won 85.7 percent of his draws in the last five games.
“Sometimes you get a little streaky and you feel like you have good timing,” said Hall, not wanting to bring attention to the run. “If you find something that’s working you just try to ride it as long as you can.”(Click "Full Story" for more...)
WINNIPEG, Manitoba –According to the official stat sheets, the Flyers have just 12 giveaways in their last three games. This comes on the heels of having zero in a game two weeks ago in a shutout of New Jersey.
Now, it should be pointed out that while these stats are technically official, they are incredibly subjective from arena to arena.
Nevertheless, it is certainly an indicator that the Flyers are playing smarter hockey.(Click "Full Story" for more...)
PITTSBURGH – Quick… who is the only current Flyers forward to have played on all four lines this season?
I’m certain the first name to jump into your head was not Michael Raffl. And yet, he’s the answer.
Adding to his versatility resume, Raffl has also played on the power play and on the penalty kill.
Having him on the roster was one of the reasons Max Talbot became moveable in a trade for a better offensive player – because Raffl was versatile enough to do some of the things Talbot was doing for the Flyers.
And frankly, his play has been a bit surprising to everyone around the organization.(Click "Full Story" for more...)
OTTAWA, Ontrario – After spending the night at the Hall of Fame induction gala in Toronto last night, I’m pretty amazed that I made it to Ottawa in time for the morning skate today, but I did.
In retrospect, I probably should have slept in and taken a later flight. But, I didn’t, and now I’m tasked with update you, constant reader, on the state of the Flyers based on what I saw for about 20 minutes this morning at the Canadian Tire Arena (nee: ScotiaBank Place, nee: Corel Center).
Well, to put it bluntly, there ain’t much – which is why I’m going to talk about last night for the most part instead.
However, for those of you wanting the latest news and without much interest in Hall of Fame night, I’ll give you the, “ What you need to know” right off the top.(Click "Full Story" for more...)
PHILADELPHIA – As Nick Grossmann removes his equipment after practice, he looks like a Roman Gladiator.
Dripping with sweat, he removes more padding and supportive gear than maybe any other athlete in the game of hockey.
There are pads beneath his shoulder pads. There are not one, but two knee braces. There is extra cushioning around his ankles. His wrists are taped. His helmet has that little bit of extra padding that guys who have suffered concussions have added to it for a bit more safety.(Click "Full Story" for more...)