End to End: Which Flyers impressed in Sochi?

End to End: Which Flyers impressed in Sochi?
February 24, 2014, 12:00 pm
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Michael Raffl, left, had three points in the Olympics, and Kimmo Timonen, right, helped Finland earn a bronze medal. (USA Today Images)

Each week, we'll ask questions about the Flyers to our resident hockey analysts and see what they have to say.

Going "End to End" this week are CSN anchor/reporter John Boruk, CSNPhilly.com producer/reporter Tom Dougherty and CSNPhilly.com producer/reporter Tim Riday.

The questions: Which Flyer impressed you most in Sochi? And which Flyer benefited the most from the Olympics?

Boruk
Kimmo Timonen continues to amaze. With Teemu Selanne receiving much attention, Timonen may be the most under-appreciated player in Olympic hockey history. In five Winter Games, he now has four medals after whipping Team USA for the bronze. Timonen was a plus-4 for the tournament, second among Finnish defensemen in ice time, and most impressively, I don't believe he was on the ice for any goal allowed in Finland's games against Canada, Russia, Sweden or the U.S.

As for who benefited the most? I think you have to look at Michael Raffl. Even though Austria wasn't much of a factor, Raffl saw an increase in ice time, earning the trust from his coaches as the tournament wore on. He played 20-plus minutes in Austria's final two games, and finished with three points (one goal, two assists) in four games. It's already been a memorable rookie season with the Flyers and the Olympics will only contribute to his development.

Dougherty
I’m going to go with Raffl despite his team getting blown out in three of its four games. I’m judging an individual’s performance, and Raffl is the first Flyer who comes to mind that had the biggest impact on one of his team’s victories -- for Austria, its only.

Raffl collected a goal, three shots, won eight faceoffs and played 20:58 in Austria’s 3-1 win over Norway on Feb. 16. His goal proved to be the game-winner. Raffl has played multiple roles with the Flyers, including on the top line. That stopped working near the end of the break. It's encouraging to see Raffl show some offensive prowess on a big stage. Maybe it sparks him again. Overall, I think all five Flyers who participated in the games performed strongly.

For a player who hasn’t played much this year, Andrej Meszaros is the Flyer who benefited most from the Olympics. There’s no question about that. He played significant minutes and played well, but his performance doesn’t guarantee him playing time with the Flyers. He wasn’t a regular before the Olympics, and that shouldn’t change because of his play in Sochi.

Riday
If you're a Flyers fan, you have to be happy with how Meszaros played for Slovakia. Sure, the Slovaks went 0-3-1 and finished 11th out of the 12 participating teams, but Meszaros saw significant ice time and was outstanding defensively. One major stat that stood out to me: Meszaros' plus/minus in a lopsided 7-1 loss to the U.S. in the qualifying round was even. I know some people (Tom Dougherty included) aren't a fan of plus/minus, but the fact that Meszaros wasn't a negative in that game proves he wasn't a liability in his own end.

As for the Flyer who benefited the most from the Olympics, I would have to go with Timonen. The veteran defenseman has had an up-and-down season for the orange and black and hasn't looked like the player we've grown accustomed to seeing. But Timonen was a big part of Team Finland and walked away from his final Olympics with a bronze medal for his efforts. As the Flyers prepare for a potential playoff run, that should serve as a big confidence booster for Timonen, who has struggled to keep up at times this season.