Flyers

NHL unveils All-Star Game captains

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NHL unveils All-Star Game captains

NEW YORK -- When the Tampa Bay Lightning host NHL All-Star Weekend, they'll have face of the franchise Steven Stamkos front and center.

Stamkos was voted by fans as captain of the Atlantic Division team for the All-Star 3-on-3 tournament that'll take place later this month at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida. The league unveiled All-Star captains Wednesday night and is expected to announce the full rosters in mid-January.

Stamkos has 49 points for first-place Tampa Bay and is signed for the next seven seasons. Stamkos was the No. 1 pick of the Lightning in 2008 and chose to stay with them rather than test free agency in the summer of 2016 (see full story).

Golden Knights: Marchessault signs 6-year deal
LAS VEGAS -- The Vegas Golden Knights signed scoring leader Jonathan Marchessault to a $30 million, six-year contract extension Wednesday, the clearest sign yet that the first-year, first-place organization is going for it.

Marchessault will count $5 million against the salary cap through 2023-24, a significant raise from the $750,000 he was making this season as one of the NHL's best bargains. General manager George McPhee announced the deal amid the Golden Knights' season-best eight-game winning streak.

Since being taken from the Florida Panthers in the expansion draft, Marchessault has been a big reason for the Golden Knights' surprising inaugural season. The 27-year-old forward has 15 goals and 22 assists in 37 games for Vegas, which leads the Western Conference at 27-9-2 (see full story).

Predators: Forsberg out 4 to 6 weeks with injury
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Nashville Predators forward and leading scorer Filip Forsberg will miss four to six weeks with an upper-body injury.

The Predators announced the extent of Forsberg's injury Wednesday. Forsberg got hurt Friday at Minnesota and had missed Nashville's two games since. That marked the first time the Predators had played a regular-season or playoff game without Forsberg since the 2013-14 season.

Forsberg has 15 goals and 34 points in 37 games this season. He leads the Predators in goals. His 19 assists rank second on the team, behind P.K. Subban's 20.

Flyers at Canadiens: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

Flyers at Canadiens: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

Is the bye week coming at a bad time?

Maybe, considering the Flyers (18-23-6) have a chance to tie their season-best win streak of three games Saturday when they visit the Canadiens (27-17-5).

Let's look at the essentials:

When: 7 p.m. ET with Flyers Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m.
Where: Bell Centre
Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

• Under interim head coach Scott Gordon, the Flyers have played noticeably better in close games. They own five wins in one-goal games through 16 contests with Gordon behind the bench. Prior to his arrival, the Flyers had three such wins in 31 games.

Their improved fortitude will be tested Saturday because the Canadiens play a lot of close games. Montreal is tied for second in the NHL with 13 wins in one-goal games, while it has 11 losses in such situations — six in regulation, five in overtime.

• After Saturday's game, the Flyers won't play again until Jan. 28 because of the bye week followed by the All-Star break.

The extended hiatus will give general manager Chuck Fletcher and the front office greater time to focus on big decisions ahead of the Feb. 25 trade deadline.

At the same time, the Flyers probably wouldn't have minded staying on the ice. They've scored 11 goals over the last two games and have won three of the last four, playing their best spurt of hockey since Oct. 30 to Nov. 10, when they won five of six.

To give you some context of how much 11 goals are for the Flyers in two games, they scored just 15 goals during their eight-game losing streak prior to this four-game stretch.

• The Flyers aren't expected to see Carey Price, but that might not be a huge break. Backup goalie Antti Niemi is 5-1-0 with a 1.40 goals-against average and .952 save percentage in six career games against the Flyers.

Niemi is also coming off a 52-save victory his last time out, while he's made 127 saves on 132 shots over his last three games, all victories.

The Flyers will be confident with their option in net. Carter Hart is facing too high a volume of shots, though, something the Flyers can help cut down.

• Saturday night will be a battle of the NHL's worst power-play units, with the Flyers and Canadiens ranked 30th and 31st, respectively.

However, the Flyers' five-forward man advantage has produced goals in back-to-back games. Before the unit was put together, the power play was 0 for its last 14.

Projected lineup

Forwards
James van Riemsdyk-Claude Giroux-Travis Konecny
Oskar Lindblom-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
Scott Laughton-Nolan Patrick-Wayne Simmonds
Michael Raffl-Phil Varone-Jori Lehtera

Defensemen
Ivan Provorov-Travis Sanheim
Robert Hagg-Radko Gudas
Shayne Gostisbehere-Andrew MacDonald

Goalies
Carter Hart 
Mike McKenna

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Flyers' Dale Weise staying home, waiting for a trade

Flyers' Dale Weise staying home, waiting for a trade

VOORHEES, N.J. — Dale Weise hasn’t gone to general manager Chuck Fletcher to ask for a trade, but with his skates hanging from his stall at the Skate Zone in Voorhees, New Jersey, it appears that Weise will be the next shoe to drop in Fletcher’s plan to reshape the roster.

Weise’s absence from Friday’s practice continued a bizarre situation in which the winger is technically on the team and the active roster, but nowhere to be found where it matters most. 

On Friday, it was confirmed that Weise has been asked to stay at home and wait for a trade to materialize. How and when that happens will be an interesting next development. Weise has cleared waivers twice — once before the season opener in Vegas, and again on Wednesday — meaning there’s not one team willing to take on his contract (signed through next season at $2.35 million).

In all likelihood, the Flyers would have to pick up a portion of that salary to help facilitate a deal, or offer a sweetener in the form of a draft pick to get a team to take Weise off the Flyers' hands.

How did it get to this point?

For one, Weise’s failure to understand his role. Former general manager Ron Hextall signed Weise on July 1, 2016, as an energy forward to bring a physical element while providing scoring depth in a bottom-six role. He came to Philadelphia following a season in which he scored 14 goals in 56 games with Montreal, but could never fit in with the Blackhawks with one assist in 15 regular-season games after he was dealt before the deadline.

That alone should have been a red flag for Hextall.

In late November, under former coach Dave Hakstol, Weise was under the impression he had a bigger role, working his way onto the second line alongside Nolan Patrick and Jakub Voracek. In early December, Weise was playing some of his best hockey as a Flyer, scoring three goals over a five-game stretch.

That all changed when Scott Gordon replaced Hakstol. Weise was relegated to a fourth-line checking role, which, let’s just say, he refused to embrace. In recent games at Washington and last Saturday in New Jersey, Weise played a combined 20:38 with a whole lot of nothing — no shots, no hits, no blocks and, quite frankly, no interest.

To make matters worse was Patrick’s disturbing admission: “He was really good at helping me stay positive through the slump and when everything wasn't going well. He's by far the best teammate I've ever had." 

The best teammate he’s ever had?

If Weise was this incredible teammate, then he would have spent the past two seasons leading by example on the ice as the hardest-working player on the team, and not tell a teammate all the cushy things he wants to hear when things aren’t going so well.  

As the saying goes, “Misery loves company.”

Even the media loved talking to Weise. He often would say the things that needed to be said following an embarrassing loss. But if Weise was exactly what the Flyers needed when he signed a four-year, $9.4 million contract, then he wouldn’t be at home waiting for a phone call.

“Obviously, I’ve talked to him,” Patrick said. “I know what the situation is. Things happen quick in pro sports. Obviously, it’s a tough one to swallow. He’s a good body like that. I just hope he gets to go to another team and gets a shot there.” 

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