Flyers left winger Michael Raffl, the good-natured Austrian whose offense has been revived since Jake Voracek became his linemate, played in his 300th NHL game Thursday against Buffalo.
“If you asked me a couple years ago, I wouldn’t have dreamed of it,” Raffl, signed as a free agent in 2013, said before reaching the milestone in the Flyers’ 2-1 win. “It’s part of my life now and I think it’s awesome and I’m very proud of that.”
Raffl has collected three goals and two assists in the five games since Voracek joined his line. Val Flippula centers the unit.
“He’s such a good player; he’s one of the best in the league at what he does,” Raffl said of Voracek, who began the night tied for seventh in the NHL with 37 points in 30 games. “He’s so strong on the puck, so I’ve been able to save some energy. I’m not along the boards in battles as much….I get to the open spot and he’s good enough to find you.”
Playing on a checking line earlier in the season, Raffl was pointless in his first 21 games.
“I know the points weren’t there the first 20 games and I was struggling offensively, but I thought I played very well. I was trying to help the team win one way or the other,” he said. “There’s 20 guys on every team and not everybody can have the same role. If you’re on the fourth line and get that role, you take pride in it and help the team win in that kind of role. You can’t complain. You have to wait for your chance.”
Now he is alongside two good playmakers and his role is to find the back of the net — like he did when he scored a career-high 21 goals in 2014-15.
“It’s clicking now and it’s more fun, for sure,” he said.
The Flyers have a 5-0 record since coach Dave Hakstol tweaked all four lines.
“Raf is playing with a lot of confidence right now; you can see it and he’s playing great hockey,” Voracek said. “It’s all about believing in yourself and believing in your linemates.”
Brian Elliott made his sixth straight start….Michal Neuvirth skated before Thursday’s practice and is getting closer to returning from an unspecified injury….Hakstol said speedy winger Travis Konecny brings a “little bit more of a shooting element, and an attacking-the-net element” to the recently altered fourth line….The Flyers will have a holiday light show Saturday before their 7 p.m. game with Dallas. Fans will receive light-up bracelets that are programmed to accompany the show….Long-time public-address announcer Lou Nolan, who recently worked his 2,000th career game, will sign his book If These Walls Could Talk: Philadelphia Flyers from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center team store.