DENVER -- Michael Raffl’s head bounced off the Pepsi Center glass and he fell backwards to the ice. Stunned and staggered, it took Raffl a second to get to his feet and get to the bench.
Raffl, 25, immediately walked toward the locker room but stopped halfway to be examined by team trainers. It didn’t take them long to figure out Raffl sustained a head injury.
Raffl left the game and did not return. The Flyers diagnosed him with a concussion. At the very least, Craig Berube said Raffl will not play in Phoenix on Saturday night.
Raffl was rammed into the boards from behind by Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog. The hit occurred with 3:10 remaining in the first period. Landeskog was not penalized on the play.
Berube watched the video and said it was not a dirty play. The Flyers did, however, voice their displeasure with the officiating crew about the hit.
“It’s fine,” Berube said. “I don’t think it’s a penalty. It was a tough play. He’s against the glass already, the guy just hit him. It’s a tough play. I don’t think it’s a dirty hit at all.”
To me, Landeskog’s hit appeared to be exactly the kind the NHL is trying to remove from the game. It is tough to pin down what exactly the NHL's Department of Player Safety will think, though. The front of Raffl’s body was squarely facing the boards and glass. He was already touching it when the puck came near him.
Landeskog checked Raffl from behind, with his head making primary contact with the glass. A still frame photo from Raffl’s body position (above) was taken by the Daily News just prior to contact courtesy of the NHL’s Game Center Live platform.
The Flyers were already missing Matt Read (upper-body) against the Avalanche. Losing Raffl for the night forced Berube to shuffle the deck, using Zac Rinaldo and Sean Couturier in expanded roles.
“You’re missing two good forwards, but there’s guys that are replaceable,” Berube said. “Guys have to step up. Injuries happen. No sense worry about it. Guys that come in have to play. I thought the team showed up and play a good, solid hard game. We didn’t have any passengers.”
MILE HIGH CLUB: If you’ve ever been to Denver (elevation: 5,690 feet) and have ever gone for a run (hint: I don’t frequently), the difference in altitude is apparent pretty quickly. The thin air makes it a little tougher to breathe, you seem out of breath quicker and your throat burns just a little bit more. Okay, maybe all of that is because I’m out of shape.
Nonetheless, Berube said he believed the altitude could have been a difference. He offered the information unprovoked, meaning he was not asked about it.
It isn’t often that you hear coaches say things like that can make a difference.
“It’s tough,” Berube said. “You come to Colorado and the altitude and everything - it’s not easy. I’ve played it. The air is thin. It’s not an easy thing. Guys worked hard, they were smart, they kept their shifts short.”
The Flyers are now 2-6-6 since the Avalanche moved to Colorado from Quebec City. They have not won in Denver since Dec. 27, 2002.
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