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Raffl fits in with top line

IT WAS A SIMPLE text message, sent Thursday afternoon by Claude Giroux, hours before the Flyers' matchup with the Canadiens.

IT WAS A SIMPLE text message, sent Thursday afternoon by Claude Giroux, hours before the Flyers' matchup with the Canadiens.

Giroux contacted teammate Michael Raffl to let him know coach Craig Berube had decided to shake up the lines. For the first time since Scott Hartnell was injured in October, the Flyers had a new top unit.

And for the first time in Raffl's brief NHL career, 2 weeks after being a healthy scratch, he would be skating with Giroux.

"He told me that I was going to be playing with him, so [I had a great nap]," Raffl said. "I came here ready to play."

The message paid off. With a little dose of instant chemistry, Raffl scored his first NHL goal on home ice. Giroux netted his sixth goal of the season, to help his shooting percentage begin to climb back to his career average. And Voracek added his third and fourth points in the last three games.

It was the spark the Flyers needed, likely a combination Berube will stick with for the time being to see if it can get the offense back on track without Vinny Lecavalier.

Before that, the Flyers were searching internally for a solution. They are now 3-6-1 without Lecavalier this season - and he won't be back until at least Dec. 30.

One option that never really existed, much to the chagrin of fans watching him, is first-round pick Scott Laughton. Most nights, he is easily the best player on the ice with the OHL's Oshawa Generals. Laughton, 19, has 24 goals and 26 assists in just 29 games this season.

It has been one NHL training camp, six AHL games and nearly a full season of junior action since Laughton played five games for the Flyers last January.

Yet, unless the Flyers recalled him under "emergency conditions," he would not be available to them. The Flyers, one of the healthiest teams in the league, are far too stout for "emergency conditions," which according to Rule 13.12 Section (m) means an "incapacitating injury, illness or suspension" which brings the roster below 12 forwards, six defensemen and two goalies.

The Flyers have three healthy players sitting in the press box nightly. While it's not out of the question their roster will be decimated at some point this season, it's certainly not an outcome Paul Holmgren would hope for in order to get to Laughton. If available, he'd certainly be an option the Flyers would consider.

The rule exists to prevent junior players from shuttling back and forth from the NHL all season long. A new agreement with the CHL - the parent league of the three major junior leagues, the OHL, QMJHL and WHL - was recently completed with the NHL.

For now, the Flyers will see how far Raffl, Giroux and Voracek can take them, while waiting to see if Scott Hartnell, Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn can find similar chemistry.

Lavy landing spot?

One destination rumored for Peter Laviolette is Long Island, where the Islanders have won just once in regulation over the last 18 games. It makes sense, given Laviolette has coached there before and remains close with owner Charles Wang.

But let's add another possible landing spot to the list: Nashville. A source close to Laviolette indicated the Predators have listed him as a top candidate should David Poile decide to fire Barry Trotz, the only coach the franchise has had since entering the league in 1998-99.

It figures the Predators (15-14-3) will go one way or the other as they begin a stretch of 11 out of 16 at home today. Laviolette will serve under Poile, Team USA general manager, as an assistant coach in Sochi in February.

Schenn fined

Brayden Schenn was fined $2,230.77 by the NHL yesterday, the maximum permitted under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, for a crosscheck in Wednesday's loss in Chicago.

Schenn crosschecked onetime Flyer Kris Versteeg with 6:35 remaining in the second period. There was no penalty called on the play. Versteeg, who was traded back to the Blackhawks this season by Florida, was incensed on the play and actively complained to the official while skating up the ice.

Schenn, 22, was suspended one game by the NHL on Jan. 23, 2013 for charging New Jersey's Anton Volchenkov. He forfeited $4,702.70 for that game, bringing his career total in fine money to $6,933.47.

The money goes to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund.

Slap shots

There are 11 sets of brothers in the NHL this season. The Schenns are among only two sets (along with Vancouver twins Henrik and Daniel Sedin) who can have their dad see both sons play on the same fathers' trip, a popular tradition leaguewide. There have been 47 sets of brothers to play on the same NHL team since 1917 . . . With their fathers in town, the Flyers enjoyed a day off yesterday. Their dads will accompany them to Washington today on a chartered train before tomorrow's game . . . Did you know call-up Chris VandeVelde, who played his first game as a Flyer on Tuesday, scored his only NHL goal against Steve Mason? It was March 25, 2012, with Edmonton at Columbus - his only shot on goal in five games that season . . . The Flyers have scored the first goal in four straight games but are just 1-2-1 in that stretch.