Although he’s played nothing but wing for the Flyers and that’s the position they recruited him to play, Michael Raffl is making the move back to center. That’s right, he actually began his career in the middle of the ice and when the Flyers faced off against the Anaheim Ducks Thursday, that’s where he started. “You get to have the puck a little bit more,” the 25-year-old forward said. “It’s going to be nice. I really look forward to it. I’ve been a centerman my whole life until I was 20 maybe.” At that point, he was playing for his hometown team back in Austria and a new coach asked him to make the move to wing so he could get more ice time with the imports they had on their roster. “I didn’t mind it at all,” said Raffl, who has moved to play with nearly every Flyers forward on the roster at this point. And he doesn’t mind now. Flyers coach Craig Berube has him playing with Zac Rinaldo on his left and Adam Hall on his right. Hall is actually the Flyers’ best player on draws, but Berube wanted to give Raffl a shot in the middle. When Chris VandeVelde was on the Flyers’ fourth line, he played in the middle and Hall played the wing and they swapped faceoffs depending on which side of the ice the draw came. Seemingly, Berube wants to test Raffl’s faceoff skills with Hall as a very good other option. Heading into Thursday’s game, Hall was 59.8 percent on faceoffs – better than any other Flyers center – and Raffl was a perfect 100 percent with only two draws this season. “I think it’s a good-skating line with those two and Hallsy out there,” Berube said. “They can go out there against anybody.” Also new to the line is Zac Rinaldo, back after a missing 10 games with a left high-ankle sprain. The initial prognosis was six weeks for the 23-year-old winger, but he returned in three. “Six weeks is way too long for me,” said the outspoken Rinaldo, who said the injury hasn’t inhibited his game. Rinaldo said he was nervous before the game, playing for the first time in nearly a month.
Team finds versatility in new line with Raffl
Courier-Post | Jan 31