Michael Raffl

Flyers vs. Maple Leafs: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

Flyers vs. Maple Leafs: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

VOORHEES, N.J. — The Flyers (36-32-8) will try to fend off elimination Wednesday night when they host the Maple Leafs (45-25-6).

Here are the essentials:

When: 7 p.m. ET with Flyers Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m.
Where: Wells Fargo Center
Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

• By virtue of tiebreakers, the Flyers can be eliminated from playoff contention tonight with a regulation loss.

The Flyers are 10 points back of the Eastern Conference's second wild-card spot with six games remaining. After a 2-5-0 stretch, they would need an absolute miracle to qualify for the postseason. In fact, both Hockey-Reference.com and SportsClubStats.com give the Flyers a 0.0 percent chance to make the playoffs.

Regardless, interim head coach Scott Gordon expects his team to play hard.

I think they're all pros and they know the right way and the wrong way to play the game.

I don't have any doubts that our guys will play well.

• Samuel Morin hasn't played in a competitive hockey game since May 9, 2018, when he suffered a torn ACL during the Phantoms' five-overtime playoff victory. His last NHL game was Nov. 24, 2017.

That will all change tonight as the 6-foot-7 defenseman enters the lineup. Not only has Morin completed a lengthy recovery from an ACL injury, but he also played just 15 regular-season games last season with AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley because of several lower-body injuries.

"My road to recovery has been pretty weird," Morin said Wednesday after morning skate. "It'll be a story to tell later. Just don't give up."

Morin, the Flyers' 2013 first-round pick, said this game feels more meaningful than his NHL debut on April 4, 2017 (see story).

"I think it's bigger, to be honest," he said. "My first NHL game, big hype obviously, but I played all year and had a good year. This is crazy, just playing a game."

With Morin making his season debut, the Flyers will play seven defensemen and 11 forwards, which they've done plenty under Gordon.

• Michael Raffl took the ice knowing he's back in the Flyers' picture for two more years. The pending unrestricted free agent wasn't traded at the Feb. 25 deadline and was re-signed to a two-year extension Tuesday, a deal worth less than his current contract (see story).

The 30-year-old forward has played only for the Flyers in his career and didn't want to leave. However, the decision wasn't just about being comfortable.

It's not always good to be in a comfort zone in your life. As I said, though, I love it here and at this point in my career, you look to go somewhere where you have a chance to have success and a chance to win. I feel very confident in this group and things that are coming up. I think it's going to be a bright future for the Flyers and I'm happy that I can be a part of it for two more years.

• Since beating the Flyers, 7-6, in a wild game March 15, the Maple Leafs have lost three of their last five games, with two of those defeats coming against the Senators and Rangers.

Projected lineup

Forwards
James van Riemsdyk-Nolan Patrick-Claude Giroux
Oskar Lindblom-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
Travis Konecny-Scott Laughton-Ryan Hartman
Michael Raffl-Corban Knight

Defensemen
Ivan Provorov-Travis Sanheim
Shayne Gostisbehere-Philippe Myers
Robert Hagg-Radko Gudas
Samuel Morin

Goalies
Carter Hart
Cam Talbot

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Michael Raffl signs 2-year extension with Flyers

Michael Raffl signs 2-year extension with Flyers

Chuck Fletcher is in the process of identifying which players will be part of the Flyers' future moving forward, and those who aren’t. 

Versatile winger Michael Raffl is one of the Flyers the new executive VP and GM wants to keep around.

The Flyers and Raffl agreed on a two-year, $3.2 million extension Tuesday, roughly a 32 percent pay cut from the three-year, $7.05 million contract that expires at the end of this season.

Why isn't Raffl worth more?

For starters, Raffl has played the full 82-game slate only once in his six seasons with the Flyers. He has also seen a significant dip in ice time this season, averaging 11:38 through 61 games played and has been utilized primarily in a bottom-six role.

When Raffl signed his current three-year contract in February of 2016, he was more of an offensive contributor coming off a career-high 21 goals playing alongside Claude Giroux.

In the proceeding three years, Raffl, now 30, has scored just 27 goals, including a career-low six this season.

You can also argue that Raffl doesn’t always play with a high motor consistently.

Flyers still get a bargain

However, you won’t find many veterans who bring the versatility of Raffl, capable of playing both left and right wing while contributing on the penalty kill, and he doesn’t hurt a team with undisciplined penalties. 

He’s also a big-body forward with a penchant for playing physically, winning board battles, while using his size to carve out space in front of the net. For a player listed at 6-foot, 200 pounds, Raffl plays bigger than his size at times.

Raffl is also a good locker room presence known to have a loose sense of humor, bringing a lighthearted approach. His signing fills a depth role, and according to Cap Friendly, the Flyers now have 14 players under contract with roughly $31 million in cap space to work with.

If the Flyers plan on being active in free agency, they also need some lower-tiered salaries to provide the necessary space. Give Fletcher credit for ridding the organization of Dale Weise’s lengthy contract, while signing Raffl to a modest two-year deal through 2021.

Clearly, there was a comfort level with Raffl, who chose comfortability with the organization, as opposed to testing his value on the market.

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Appreciating the underappreciated Michael Raffl, still here for another Flyers run

Appreciating the underappreciated Michael Raffl, still here for another Flyers run

Scott Laughton was anxious, almost as if he was about to be dealt.

He picked up his phone and called Michael Raffl right around the 3 p.m. cutoff point of the NHL trade deadline. With a new general manager and some roster retooling underway, Raffl seemed like a candidate to be moved as a 30-year-old pending unrestricted free agent on a team not quite there in contending mode.

What did Raffl say on the other end?

"He told me to wait an hour or so," Laughton said Monday night with a smile.

Can't hurt to play it safe.

"It was a weird day," Laughton said of the Feb. 25 deadline, "to think you're going to lose one of your best buddies or your best buddy on the team.

"It's nice to have him here, he does so much on and off the ice and provides so much for us."

Raffl is quietly still here and has been for longer than so many realize.

He played his 400th career game in a Flyers uniform Monday night. Only Claude Giroux (474), Jakub Voracek (467), Wayne Simmonds (457) and Sean Couturier (442) have played more in orange and black since the start of the 2013-14 season.

The Austrian was signed in May 2013 to an entry-level contract at 24 years old.

"I came in here with the attitude, signing a two-way contract, to try and get one game in and be proud of that," Raffl said. "Here I am, 400 games later, it's kind of cool."


(AP Images/USA Today Images)

Over that span, Raffl's plus-27 mark is second on the team to Couturier's plus-70. He has played up and down the lineup, from complementing Giroux and Voracek to scoring 21 goals in his second season to grinding on the fourth unit in limited minutes. 

When the Flyers had the NHL's seventh-best penalty kill in 2013-14, Raffl played a career-high 117:55 minutes shorthanded. He has turned back into a PK piece the past two seasons and is one of the Flyers' smartest puck-possession forwards.

These are the underrated traits that would have made Raffl a valuable trade acquisition for a team eyeing that prototypical role forward to gain a slight but decisive edge. 

However, Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher likely saw Raffl's strengths as a valued component to the team's 2018-19 hopes for a playoff berth outweighing the potential return on a trade.

After a two-point effort in Monday's 3-2 win over the Senators, Raffl has recorded nine points and a plus-7 rating in 11:38 ice time per night through the last 15 games. 

Following his 400th game, the Flyers were three points out of the Eastern Conference's second wild-card position, the closest they've been to a playoff spot since Nov. 20.

"Your whole team can't be comprised of just goal scoring and skill," Flyers interim head coach Scott Gordon said. "You have to have different elements on your lines — killing penalties, maybe a good check, a hard forecheck, good defensively, win faceoffs, whatever it might be. And not all of your offensive players are going to have those attributes. 

"So when you look at Laughts and Raf, they play some heavy minutes, they can grind it out in the offensive zone and make it hard for the opposition and change momentum, so the next line that comes out there can have an easier time because the previous line from the opponent couldn't get onto the ice.

"Those guys are invaluable and they are just as important as guys that are putting up the big points."

Raffl never received a trade call back on Feb. 25. Instead, he got one from his friend looking for good news. Raffl was staying put, helping at least one more postseason drive in Philadelphia.

"I love it here, this is my team, this is where I signed, so this is where I want to stay," Raffl said. "I've never asked for a trade in my career and I never got traded. This is my group, this is where I want to be."

It's where he was for his 400th game, a feat that snuck up on everybody — fittingly and appropriately for a player like Michael Raffl.

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