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Flyers' Raffl, Akeson eager to make playoff debuts

by Adam Kimelman

NEW YORK -- Growing up in Austria, Philadelphia Flyers forward Michael Raffl said he tried to follow the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but with the time difference it was difficult. His teammate, forward Jason Akeson, had easier access to the NHL as a child in Ottawa.

Thursday they will find out what the NHL postseason is really like when the Flyers face the New York Rangers in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference First Round series (7 p.m. ET, CNBC, TSN, RDS, CSN-PH, MSG).

"It's great," Raffl said. "I feel like a child before Christmas. Just want to get out there."

Raffl had 68 regular-season games to acclimate himself to life and hockey in North America, but said he's sensed things have changed now that the postseason has started.

"You feel it," he said. "It's something special, like a new season starting."

Akeson was recalled the last week of the regular season and played in the final game, against the Carolina Hurricanes. He'll return to the same spot he was Sunday, at right wing on a line with Sean Couturier and Matt Read. It was the second NHL game of Akeson's career.

Flyers coach Craig Berube said he wasn't concerned with how Akeson would handle himself.

"I know he's a young guy that hasn't played a whole lot, but [Akeson] will be fine I think," Berube said. "He's like everyone else; he'll be nervous. Everyone will be nervous. That's the way it is. Like anybody else, get skating, get it in deep, take the body and get involved."

Raffl will line up at left wing on a line with Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds. Raffl said he'll be nervous, but he sees that as a good thing.

"I like being nervous," he said. "I like that. I know I'm ready when I'm nervous. I like that feeling."

Schenn said he wasn't concerned with how his linemate would handle the situation.

"I think he'll be fine," Schenn said. "It might take one shift to get it underway and after that it'll be fine. He's a pretty calm player out there. It might take one shift. I don't think he'll be nervous at all."


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