VANCOUVER, British Columbia - When the Flyers were among the teams courting Michael Raffl last season, some club officials estimated that the Austrian would have to spend a year in the AHL to get used to the smaller North American rinks.
The sturdy 6-foot, 195-pound winger is a year ahead of schedule.
Raffl, a 25-year-old rookie, has been thrust onto the Flyers' top line with Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek, and entering Monday he had a goal and four assists in his first seven games with that unit. More important, his speed and strong play along the boards had helped ignite his linemates to the best scoring streaks of their careers.
Entering Monday's tough matchup in Vancouver, the Flyers were 5-1-1 since that line was put together.
Raffl, signed as an undrafted free agent in May, struggled earlier this season and failed to score a goal in his first 17 games. Still, there were positive signs.
"When he first came up, he was doing a lot of good things without the puck, and defensively, and he could kill penalties," coach Craig Berube said before the game. "But you have to adapt to the quickness with the puck, be able to get your shot off, move the puck, that kind of stuff. He's doing a good job; he's played well."
Raffl played in a lower-level league in Sweden last season - he had 24 goals in 49 games - and then played two games with Adirondack of the AHL this year before getting the call-up to the Flyers.
"I feel good, but I think I can still get better," said Raffl, who will play for Austria in the Winter Olympics. "I have room to improve even more; I'm trying to get better every day, and we'll see how far I can get."
Playing on a line with Giroux and Voracek seems to have sped up his development.
"Obviously, you get more time in [the opponent's] end and you get more scoring chances," Raffl said, "so I think it's easier to score goals and points if you play with those guys."
Raffl gave the Flyers a 4-3 shootout win in Edmonton Saturday in the opener of their six-game road trip. He scored on the first NHL shootout attempt of his young career, going wide and lifting the puck high over Ilya Bryzgalov.
Before he went onto the ice, Raffl joked with teammate Scott Hartnell.
"Hartsy, I got this," he told him.
"I was laughing, but I just tried to be confident," Raffl said. "If you go down there and be scared, you've already missed, I think. It was a fun experience."
Goalie Steve Mason, Monday's starter, entered the night 6-0-2 in his last eight starts and 13-2-4 in his last 19 appearances. . . . Brayden Schenn began the night in a 16-game slump without a goal.