Flyers Will Be Without Raffl ‘For a Little Bit’
The Flyers first win in the Round Robin was sure to spark some excitement in the area for the start of the playoffs. As great as the win was, it didn’t come without a cost.
Michael Raffl scored the first goal of the game in the second period and assisted on the second goal by Nate Thompson, but left the game early in the third after suffering an injury that left him unable to put any weight on his left leg.
In the hub cities, there are no specifics when it comes to injuries, but Alain Vigneault was able to offer even the slightest bit of an update on Raffl.
“I can’t get into specifics and I can’t get into lengths because of the NHL protocol, but I can say that he’s not going to be available for a little bit here,” Vigneault said on Monday.
Now, a little bit is a vague statement. While it is definitive that he will not play on Thursday against Washington, the Flyers have just two games left in the Round Robin this week and don’t know when their first game in the first round will be. Perhaps there is a chance that Raffl will be able to work himself back into the lineup by the early portion of the first round, perhaps he will be out longer. There simply is no way to know in the long run.
In the immediate though, the Flyers depth will come through, as they have an easy decision on who to insert into the lineup in Raffl’s place, at least for now. Joel Farabee was the odd-man out among the Top 13 forwards in Sunday’s game, and Vigneault confirmed he will play in Thursday’s game against Washington.
"Joel is definitely going to be in the lineup next game, but I'm also looking at other possibilities here," Vigneault said. "We've got today, tomorrow and a practice day before we play on Thursday. There's a possibility that there will be some other changes. I'm just in the process now of watching the game, going through the different stats we have available to us after a game. I'm going to give myself until Wednesday to decide if any other changes will be made other than the addition of Joel."
Grant, Thompson Fitting In as New Guys
Two of the newest Flyers have chipped in as part of the bottom six in the lineup for several games now.
For Derek Grant and Nate Thompson, this is not their first taste of the playoffs. They’ve been on teams poised to make deep runs. For both, being welcomed in by the Flyers, joining that tight-knit bond that the Flyers have, has happened very quickly.
“This group has a lot of fun together. I saw it right from when I got here, me and Derek,” Thompson said on Saturday. “I think it’s the core group of guys here that’s been here a while. It’s an inclusive group. Everyone’s brought into the herd. That’s what it’s been like since I’ve been here. I feel like I’ve been here a lot longer than I have been. It’s just because this core group and everyone else. Everyone hangs out together. Whenever we do something, everyone is together.
“It’s just one of those things where I have been on a lot of different teams. The teams that I have been on that are good have had that special group of guys where everyone just hangs out and everyone is good together. This group has that. I’m just happy to be a part of it.”
“For sure, it’s a tight group. The first day we got here, we noticed that right away,” Grant said. “Obviously coming into a bubble and being apart for several months before that, we stayed in touch. We played a couple poker games online as a team. We had a group chat or a FaceTime every once in a while. But coming into the bubble you get to spend a lot more time together. I think for guys like me and Nate, who came in a little late, we’re taking advantage of this time and getting to know our teammates a lot better.”
Thompson, in particular, has that experience of coming close to reaching the cusp of victory. Once with the Tampa Bay Lightning and twice with the Anaheim Ducks, Thompson has reached the conference finals, only to fall short. But it’s not lost on the veteran forward that many of the teams that reach the Stanley Cup Final and ultimately win have one thing in common.
“If you look at the teams that have won in the past, every guy will tell you that it was a close knit team,” Thompson said. “I don’t think you can win if you don’t have a close group and a special group of guys. Especially in this case, we are with each other a lot right now. We’re going to be spending a lot of time together. The way I’m looking at it right now is this is once in a lifetime experience to be able to go through this and go through this with this group of guys. We have a chance to do something special.”