After an injury and suspension-ravaged training camp, the Philadelphia Flyers were able to avoid any major issues during their season-opening back-to-back this past weekend. Unfortunately, they could not make it through Game #3 unscathed.
Forward Michael Raffl, who has primarily played on the top line with Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds in the absence of suspended Brayden Schenn, left in the second period of last night’s road loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, and did not return. The team later announced that the cause was an upper body injury, which CSNPhilly’s Tim Panaccio reported this morning was an abdominal pull. This afternoon, Ron Hextall clarified the length of time they expect Raffl to miss.
Per #Flyers GM Ron Hextall, Michael Raffl is expected to be out 10 days to two weeks with an upper body injury.— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) October 19, 2016
Raffl was likely to move down the lineup for tomorrow’s home opener versus the Anaheim Ducks, considering Schenn’s impeding return. But the Austrian forward was expected to provide an infusion of play-driving ability to the third line, most likely alongside Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Dale Weise. Instead, he’ll be out until early November.
It sounds like Raffl avoided major injury, but his absence is timed with a particularly busy section of the schedule. If we assume Raffl is out for a full two weeks starting today, he would be out for 6-7 games, a not-insignificant period of time. Thus far this year, Raffl’s advanced metrics have been stellar (he leads the team with a 5v5 score-adjusted Corsi of 61.56%), so this injury will hurt.
The injury also keeps the status quo of the third and fourth lines, with seven forwards (Bellemare, Weise, Matt Read, Nick Cousins, Boyd Gordon, Chris VandeVelde and Roman Lyubimov) all battling for just six spots. Expect head coach Dave Hakstol to continue to mix and match the player combinations with Raffl out, in constant search of an effective bottom-six.