The 2019-20 NHL regular season has concluded and the next time the puck drops will officially kick off the race to the Stanley Cup. The Flyers are hungry and ready to battle it out, but that is thanks to the hard work from back in October.
In an End to End series, NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Brooke Destra, Joe Fordyce and Jordan Hall will be grading players based on individual performances.
Today we will be looking at Michael Raffl.
If there’s one thing I’ll never understand, it’s the lack of appreciation for Raffl and his work as a bottom-six forward. When he’s tasked to perform in the role he’s supposed to do, there’s not much that can go wrong. In the 2019-20 preseason, not many were in favor of him cracking the official roster, but it’s great that as the Flyers and NHL head to the playoffs, he’s proved the haters wrong.
I’m very surprised at the amount of negativity I’ve been seeing this preseason toward Michael Raffl.— Brooke Destra (@BrookeNBCS) September 24, 2019
As far as bottom-6 forwards go, he’s as solid as you can get. That, in addition to his work on the PK, are two spots the Flyers need consistently at — and he does just that.
Though he missed some time with an injury (broken finger), he still managed to tally 20 points (eight goals, 12 assists) through 58 games. Raffl has always been quite the staple on the penalty kill during his seven-year career with the Flyers and this past season has been no different. What’s great is that he also gained a teammate in Kevin Hayes and the two have been able to lock down the penalty kill pretty nicely.
I’m going to give Raffl a B for 2019-20.
I think a good Raffl season is a B season, so the Flyers should be happy. Raffl did miss a handful of games with injury, which always disrupts a player’s flow during the course of a season. In less games, Raffl equaled the point totals of his average season over his seven-year career, so from that aspect, it was a solid season.
There are times during the season when it seems as if Raffl is holding back some of his ability, like when he elects to pass rather than shoot from time to time especially when taking a shot would seem like a no-brainer. On the other hand, Raffl is another guy who can play anywhere up and down the lineup and he will not hurt you. He is a smart, responsible player and this season was another example of just that.
B for Raffl.
Raffl was his usual reliable, versatile self for the Flyers.
Going back to 2013 with the club, Raffl has made a career out of honing in on those characteristics as a valuable role forward.
He provided those role qualities across the board in the 2019-20 regular season. He played winger and center, won a career-high 99 faceoffs, helped kill penalties and scored 20 points (eight goals, 12 assists) while playing a little under 12 and a half minutes per game over 58 contests.
One example of Raffl playing his role was Aug. 24 when the 31-year-old blocked a hard shot with 41 seconds left in the third period and his team leading the Blackhawks 4-1.
“Great message for our team,” Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said two days later. “You’ve got to play the right way from the beginning to the end, and that’s what he did.”
A solid B for Raffl.
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