VOORHEES, N.J. — Michael Raffl couldn’t help but joke about it.
That’s just his nature.
He took the practice ice Tuesday at Flyers Skate Zone having gone 15 straight games without a goal or point — and was more than aware. He just wasn’t acute on the specifics.
“I had the feeling I didn’t score in a while, but I didn’t even know it’s like  games,” Raffl smiled and said. “Must be close to a month right now, right?”
Make no mistake, though — Raffl is not OK with going quiet in the goal department. The 28-year-old Austrian likes to keep things light, but he takes his job seriously. Not one to illuminate the scoreboard, the forward understands his role and the essentials to it.
Still, even after he was recently dropped down the team’s lines, Raffl is using no cop-outs.
He wants to provide more offense.
“I would love to contribute more,” he said. “I’m capable of scoring more goals. I’m not happy with me not scoring goals, that’s not it. But you’ve got to stay patient. … It’s going to come.”
It was coming quite a bit playing alongside Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek. Raffl was a nice complement to the Flyers’ topflight playmakers and totaled five goals, seven points and a plus-7 rating over 14 games from Nov. 12 to Dec. 8. Despite missing eight early games because of an abdominal pull, Raffl was fifth on the Flyers with seven goals at the Dec. 23-26 holiday break.
He’s scored just once in 19 games since. Then again, counting how many times he’s lit the lamp isn’t always the best indicator for Raffl’s production.
“I think overall, he’s playing pretty good hockey,” Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said. “Raf’s a power forward. He’s a straight-line guy that needs to skate and be strong on pucks. I think, for the most part, he’s done a pretty good job of that.”
During his 15-game goal drought, Raffl has found a way to impact other areas, which often is his role. Over that time, Raffl is third on the team in hits (27) and fourth in 5-on-5 shot attempts (34).
With the Flyers as a whole experiencing difficulty scoring goals (see story), lines have been changed. Raffl is now working on the third unit with Nick Cousins and Matt Read.
“I’ve been on all the lines over my years, so I’m used to it,” said Raffl, who is in his fourth season with the Flyers. “It’s a little bit of a change, but it’s also more responsibility in terms of creating stuff and handling the puck, so I enjoy it overall, as well.
“It’s a different role. We might not end up with as many scoring chances, so you’ve got to bring something else. You’ve got to make sure you’re good on the forecheck, be physical and very responsible in your own end. And that’s what a third line should do I think.
“I’m happy on this line.”
Raffl, Cousins and Read tried things out for the first time last Saturday in the Flyers’ 2-1 OT win over the Sharks. Cousins, shifting back to center where he said he’s played his whole life, likes the combination with Raffl and Read, both of whom attack the net.
“You sort of figure out what each player likes to do and stuff like that,” Cousins said. “I played with a little bit of both those guys last year at certain times — not for a long period time, but I know what kind of players they are, you know what you’re going to get out of them every night.
“I’m back in the middle of the ice where I’m most comfortable — I was there on left wing for a bit. I thought we had a pretty good game on Saturday and we’ll continue to build off that.”
Hakstol had a more glowing review.
“I thought [Raffl] and [Cousins] and Read on Saturday were outstanding together,” he said. “We hope for that line to continue on the same path that they’re on.
“They won a lot of shifts, generated some good offensive opportunities and just overall did a good job. They were good at both ends of the rink.”
Raffl, meanwhile, won’t stray from his relaxed style. He’s not one to slam the stick or hang his head on the bench.
He is, however, ready to put some pucks in the net.
“You continue doing what you’re doing, but obviously you’re aware,” Raffl said. “You feel different when you don’t score, but as long as you get scoring chances, you shouldn’t change much.”
The happy-go-lucky Raffl then put on his own positive spin.
“From my experience, it’s coming back and then it’s coming back in bunches, right?” he said. “So, I’ve been through worse.”