Michael Raffl

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Jets’ Byfuglien still looking for No. 1

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Dustin Byfuglien looks to be pissed off in more ways than one these days.

After a slow start to the season in the physical department (and in his game overall), the Winnipeg Jets heavyweight defenseman regained his train-wreck-causing self over the past week, putting his signature beating on some unfortunate souls that drifted into his path of destruction.

Exhibit A: Philadelphia Flyers forward Michael Raffl:

Exhibit B: Philadelphia Flyers forward Jordan Weal:

Even his own teammates aren’t safe from the carnage.

In his obliteration of Weal in the above clip, you can see Jets forward Kyle Connor becoming an innocent victim of the collateral damage.

Jets captain Blake Wheeler made mention of Big Buff’s angered demeanour during their homestand last week, and as they say in Winnipeg: angry Buff is the best Buff.

Indeed, but since Byfuglien arrived in Winnipeg with the rest of the former Atlanta Thrashers in 2011, fans have also seen the other side of his game – a productive one.

At the moment, however, all fans want for Christmas is Byfuglien to find the back of the net.

This season, goal-scoring has been non-existent from the 6-foot-5, 260-pound Minnesota native, who has chipped in for 10 assists in 20 games.

It took Brent Burns 21 games to score his first goal of the season for the San Jose Sharks, a marker that came — mercifully for the man who has scored 56 goals over the past two seasons — on Friday night.

Byfuglien plays in his 21st game of the season on Saturday night, ironically against Burns’ Sharks in San Jose. Perhaps Santa will come a month early.

Byfuglien has had no shortage of chances recent with 16 shots in this past four games and nearly scored twice in a 4-1 win against the Anaheim Ducks on Friday.

Fair warning to Santa: you don’t want to piss off Dustin Byfuglien.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Report: Jets offer camp PTO to Raffl, older brother of Flyers’ Michael

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There’s probably a joke opportunity about Winnipeg trying to win the Raffl, but we’re not going to go there.

Instead, we’ll simply pass along word that, per Austrian news outlet Kurier, Thomas Raffl — the older brother of Flyers forward Michael Raffl — has received an offer to attend Jets training camp on a professional tryout.

Raffl, 29, was never drafted by an NHL club and has spent his entire career playing in Europe — he did, however, have a two-year stint playing Canadian junior hockey, with WHL clubs Kelowna and Swift Current.

Since then, he’s spent time playing in Sweden and his native Austria, most recently with powerhouse EC Red Bull Salzburg. Last year, Raffl scored 53 points in 52 games for Salzburg and three in seven games for Austria (serving as team captain) at the World Hockey Championships.

Listed at 6-foot-4, 215 pounds, the elder Raffl has good size — bigger than his brother, who’s listed at 6-foot, 190 — and there’s obvious hope he, like his brother, can be another diamond in the rough.

Philly brought over the younger Raffl in ’13-14 and he immediately contributed, with nine goals and 22 points in 68 games.

Last year Raffl scored 21 goals for the Flyers, fourth-most on the team.

Flyers edge Sabres, stretch streak to nine

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Michael Raffl had the game winner as the Philadelphia Flyers edged the Buffalo Sabres 2-1 Sunday night.

With the win Philly now has points in nine straight (6-0-3). Buffalo has just one win in its last five after snapping a franchise-worst 14-game losing streak on Feb. 3.

Philadelphia moves to within five points of the Boston Bruins for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.

Matt Read opened the scoring with his fifth of the season at 3:19 of the first period.

Nikita Zadorov tied it 1-1, on a Buffalo power play, at 13:57 of the second period.

Zach Bogosian made his Sabres debut Sunday. He finished with a Buffalo season-high 11 hits, two blocked shots and a team-leading 24:49 of ice time in the loss.

Ray Emery made 21 saves improving to 10-9-3 on the season.

Michal Neuvirth stopped 28 shots in the loss.

NHL on NBCSN: Flyers aim to get back on track vs. Sabres

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NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign as Buffalo Sabres host the Philadelphia Flyers at the First Niagara Center at 7:30 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game and pre-show online.

The odds remain stacked against the Philadelphia Flyers making the playoffs, but if they want to make a surge, they need to mop up games like Sunday’s match against the Buffalo Sabres.

Philly will display something of a new look on Sunday, as they get some players back from injuries and/or illnesses. Michael Raffl looks like he’ll return to his spot on the Flyers’ vaunted first line while Braydon Coburn should eat up some key minutes on defense.

It’s not the only situation to watch, however, as Zach Bogosian readies for his Sabres debut after the blockbuster Tyler Myers – Evander Kane trade.

Buffalo looks to roll with Michal Neuvirth tonight while the Flyers will go as far as Ray Emery can take them, at least until Steve Mason can return from his knee injury.

(Some believe the Flyers should shut down Mason altogether in 2014-15.)

Can the Flyers lock up two crucial points or will the Sabres play the role of spoiler? We’ll see on NBCSN on Sunday night.

Flyers demote Laughton with Raffl return likely

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Zach Bogosian’s Buffalo debut isn’t the only lineup note for Sunday’s Buffalo Sabres – Philadelphia Flyers game, as Philly’s forward group will look a little different.

The Flyers sent Scott Laughton to the AHL, making Michael Raffl’s return to the mix seem very likely, according to CSNPhilly.com.

Raffl (pictured to the left of Wayne Simmonds) has been sidelined since Jan. 20 with pneumonia, missing seven games in that span.

It sounds like this swap will mean a new look for the Flyers’ scoring lines, as Raffl, 26, is expected to be back with Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek while Brayden Schenn moves back to center between R.J. Umberger and Ryan White.

Laughton remains a work in progress at the NHL level, as he only has two goals and four assists for six points in 31 games this season. At 20, he still has plenty of time to blossom, but it sounds like it’s back to the drawing board for now.