Promoted to the first line, Michael Raffl scored a goal, helping the Flyers to a 2-1 win over Montreal
PHILADELPHIA – Michael Raffl said that prior to Thursday night’s 2-1 Flyers win over the Montreal Canadiens, his father had never been to an NHL game.
That wasn’t necessarily true.
“He didn’t know because I went before he was born,” Peter Raffl said.
That game also involved the Canadiens. It took place at the historic Montreal Forum. It was May of 1985, Game 7 of the Wales Conference semifinals between the Canadiens and the Quebec Nordiques. The winner would advance to face the Flyers in the Conference Finals.
In Quebec, everyone remembers the Nordiques won the game on an overtime goal by Peter Stasny, but why would Peter Raffl, a young Austrian at the time, be at that game?
Well, being a hockey player himself, Peter Raffl was part of the 1984 Austrian Olympic team that took part in the Games in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia.
While there, Peter Raffl befriended a young, American defenseman named Chris Chelios.
|Michael Raffl was able to score with his dad Peter in the crowd as part of the Flyers annual Fathers weekend.|
Chelios invited Raffl to come out and watch the game. Of course, the Habs lost, which was a disappointing night for both Chelios and Raffl.
Fast forward 29-and-a-half years.
Peter Raffl is back in North America for his second, live NHL game. This time, it was to watch his son play. And this time, there would be no such disappointment.
Raffl, who the Flyers have been really high on since signing him to a contract last May, was promoted to first line left wing in the game.
All he did was team up with Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek to have a solid, all-around game as the line provided both goals in the win.
Raffl scored his second goal of the season and Giroux netted the game-winner, both off brilliant passes from Voracek.
“I thought Raffl, the last couple games on the road, was really good,” coach Craig Berube said. “I liked what I saw and I just wanted to make a change. It ended up working out.
“He’s a quick player and strong on the puck. He’s getting more pucks on the net… so I just thought I’d try it.”
It was a good gamble. Raffl now has four points in the last five games (two goals and two assists) after collecting just one assist through his first 15 games.
And to be able to score a goal in front of his father – who is in town as part of the Flyers annual Father’s weekend – was a dream come true.
“To have him here is awesome and to be able to score like that is what you always think about as a little kid,” Michael Raffl said. “It’s nice because he was such a good player in Austria, but he could never make the NHL, so to be able to score with him here it’s something he always hoped would happen too.”
Peter Raffl played 12 seasons for Villach VSV in Austria between 1981 and 1998. He collected 164 goals and 242 assists for 406 points. And had one trip to the Olympics, but he said his talents paled compared to his son.
“He’s much better than me, that’s for sure,” Peter Raffl said.
And the Flyers have a lot of hope that Raffl was one of those diamonds in the rough who can be a break out player now at age 25.
"He's got good speed, and a good shot,” said Voracek, who has suddenly found his form from last season with two goals and two assists in his last three games after a seven-game point drought and a 12-game goal drought. “I told him before the game to just hang out in the slot and me and (Giroux) would try to feed him. He had a couple of good chances, he buried that first goal and I think he had a great game."
It was a bit of a redemption game for the Flyers after a blowout loss in Chicago Wednesday and ending the longest road trip of the season with three consecutive losses (0-2-1).
They played a really strong defensive game, limiting shots and chances for the Canadiens throughout.
|Steve Mason didn't have a busy night, but needed each of his 20 saves to secure his 11th win of the season for the Flyers.
The Habs were able to get their one goal in the final minute when a shot from Alex Galchenyuk squeezed through Steve Mason to cut the lead in half. But that was it, as Mason made 20 saves to earn the victory.
The win drew the Flyers within one point of the final playoff position in the Metropolitan Division and within four points of the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.
It sets up a huge week for the Flyers with consecutive home-and-home series’ with division rivals Washington and Columbus.
“I think there is a lot of character in the room,” Berube said. “They certainly were not happy about that loss in Chicago because they wanted to show that they could compete with that team. It didn’t work out the way they wanted it to, but there was a lot of character and a good win tonight. They showed up and played a good team game.”
NOTES: Mason got into a scuffle with Brian Gionta and Brendan Gallagher at the end of the game as they were battling for position in front of the net while looking for the tying goal… Steve Downie took an elbow to the chin from Alexei Emelin and had to be helped off the ice in the second period. Emelin was given a 5-minute major and a game misconduct, but Downie did return in the third period… This was the first game back in Philadelphia for longtime Flyer Danny Briere. The team played a tribute video to Briere during the first timeout and Briere received a standing ovation from the Flyers crowd. He acknowledged the crowd from the Canadiens bench. It was a far different reaction than his first game back in Buffalo with the Flyers when the Sabres faithful booed him lustily every time he touched the puck… Chris VandeVelde, who signed an NHL contract with the Flyers Thursday, played in place of Jay Rosehill on the fourth line… Erik Gustafsson replaced Andrej Meszaros in the lineup.