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Report: Raffl skating; Schenn stays up top

by Staff Writer / Philadelphia Flyers

For all the injuries that the Flyers have suffered this season, at some point each player has taken that important first step to recovery.

Such was the case for Michael Raffl today at the team’s practice facility in Voorhees, NJ.

Raffl didn’t skate with his teammates and he didn’t stay out for long, but he returned to the ice, which for him, is what really has him excited.

“I think so. It’s nice to get back out. It was better than riding the hand-bike for 45 minutes,” said the second-year forward. “It felt better, it’s getting better every day, so I hope I can be back sooner than six weeks.”

Andrew MacDonald averaged nearly 23 minutes of ice-time in his first seven games before he was injured.

Raffl was been sidelined since Nov. 5, a day after he suffered a lower-body during the Flyers-Oilers game the night before. It was announced on Nov. 6 that Raffl was expected to miss approximately six weeks with the injury.

Prior to that, Raffl had been a mainstay on the top line with Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek. And he fit in nicely there. At the time, he was tied for the team lead in goals (6) and had an assist for seven points and a plus-2 rating.

“Injuries are always frustrating,” added Raffl, “But there’s nothing you can do about it, you just have to work hard and make your way back somehow.”

Flyers GM Ron Hextall addressed Raffl’s condition and while skating is a good sign, he said that he is still a ways way from a possible return, and is in the range of 4-6 weeks.

“He’s not days. He’s more than that,” said Hextall “He has to go through a few days on his own and then he gets looked at, then hopefully he starts skating with the team, I’m guessing, in a week or so.”

One key member of the team who has nearly made his way back is defenseman Andrew MacDonald, who took part in a full practice with the team today.

“Wednesday’s a possibility. They’re day-to-day and closing in on the end,” added Hextall of MacDonald and Luke Schenn.

MacDonald has only appeared in seven games so far this season, posting a goal and two assists. He recorded over 21 minutes of ice time in each of the games, while averaging 22:55 of TOI.

“I feel like I’m pretty close to [a hundred percent]. I don’t know if I can give an exact number, but I feel comfortable out there,” said MacDonald after practice today.

“I think skating went really well. I didn’t do a whole lot of contact drills out there, I did some, but didn’t get pushed around out there, so we’ll see how practice goes tomorrow and go from there,” added MacDonald.

He also admitted that skating and full contact are two different but necessary aspects that need to be ready for him to be inserted into the line-up again.

With three full days between resuming game action again, forwards Matt Read and Zac Rinaldo took maintenance days in which they participated in team meetings and other workouts, but did not join the team for on-practice.

Voracek (26), Giroux (21) and Brayden Schenn (13 - pictured) are currently the Top 3 Flyers leading the team in scoring.

A bit of chemistry formed midway though the Flyers-Canadiens game in Montreal.

Even though the Flyers dropped a 6-3 contest, Brayden Schenn kept things interesting with a pair of goals while being inserted into the top line with Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek.

Part of that chemistry could also be linked to Schenn’s hot play as of late. He has three goals and seven points during a current five-game point streak, which is also a new career-high.

“They look fast. Brayden got to the net - he’s doing a lot of good things, wherever he’s playing,” said head coach Craig Berube. “Offensively he’s skating well. He’s good with the puck right now and making plays.”

Schenn played in a few preseason games and even began the year on the top-line with Giroux and Voracek, but was moved to spark offense on another line, while Berube experimented with Michael Raffl moving up to fill the void on the left side.

Since the injury to Raffl, Chris VandeVelde and Wayne Simmonds have seen time with Giroux and Voracek.

“It’s not tough for me to change lines during a game to be honest. If I’m not seeing something I like, I’ll do it,” said Berube.

The Flyers will have one more day of full practice before they head up to New York and take on the Rangers for the first time this season in Wednesday Night Rivalry Night on NBC-SN at 8 p.m. (93.3 WMMR).

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