dale weise

Unlikeliest hero Dale Weise emerges to save Flyers from more boos

Unlikeliest hero Dale Weise emerges to save Flyers from more boos

You almost had to do a double take.

With just over two minutes remaining in regulation Thursday and the Flyers pressing to score that game-tying goal, Shayne Gostisbehere sprung an orange jersey who was looking for that breakaway pass.

At that exact moment, it was somewhat of a blur. A right-handed shot hoping to elude a hard-charging defender. It appeared to be No. 28, the captain. No, wait a second, that’s No. 22! That’s Dale Weise!

Could that possibly be, scoring the game-tying goal with a quick flick of the wrist, roofing a shot over the shoulder of goaltender Darcy Kuemper? The same Dale Weise who was a healthy scratch for the first three games of the regular season?

“I was cheating a little bit, we were down a goal,” Weise said after the Flyers' 5-4 overtime win over the Coyotes (see observations). “I was hoping to kind of turn the puck over and I took off and I honestly thought he was going to catch me. Thankfully, his stick wasn’t there at the end. That’s huge for our team.”

The timing couldn’t have been more perfectly crafted to cap a rally from a two-goal deficit and send the game to overtime. Weise had not scored since Dec. 20, 2017, a 31-game goalless drought combined with 32 more games in which he didn’t even dress. From the second half of last season to the opening week of this season, it appeared as if the nine-year veteran was merely clogging up a roster spot for one of the younger prospects, whether that was Nicolas Aube-Kubel or someone else.

“Dale has been in some dark times where he doesn’t think he’s going to play again the rest of the year, but he works every day and it’s showing right now," Gostisbehere said. "He’s getting the results and he scored a big goal for us tonight."

“It feels great, I think the situation to tie the game like that — I think that feels better," Weise said. “I’m not a guy who stresses over points or goals or things like that. I don’t really judge myself on goals. If I’m playing well, that’s a huge plus for me.”

Understand, had the Flyers been in that same situation a week ago, Weise never would have seen the ice, down a goal, inside the final three minutes of regulation. Following the injury to Corban Knight, head coach Dave Hakstol was forced to improvise with his lines once again, which led to Weise earning a promotion from a fourth-line checking role to a chance to play on the third unit with Jordan Weal and Wayne Simmonds.

“He’s earned it. He’s earned everything,” Hakstol said. “He’s a confident player right now and maybe that was part of what was lacking in his game over the past couple of years.”

“Confidence is a huge thing, Weise said. “You get a regular role, you’re not sitting on the bench, waiting 20 minutes for another shift. I know two, three minutes, I’m catching my breath and getting back out there. It’s huge for me. I think my physical play of getting back to the body, I think that’s where my game starts to roll.”

During the morning skate, James van Riemsdyk joined his teammates for the first time since sustaining a leg injury in the second game of the season. When JVR is ready to roll, he will in all likelihood take Weise’s spot on the Flyers' third line, resulting in Weise being bumped down once again to accommodate the added firepower.

Perhaps he saw that coming more than his electrifying game-tying goal.

“I’m comfortable playing wherever,” Weise said. “I think when you get a string of games to play this well and get your confidence, I think it’s easy to keep it rolling, whether I go back down to the fourth line and play eight minutes. You get that belief back in yourself to start contributing offensively. It’s huge.” 

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Flyers 5, Coyotes 4 (OT): Wild win kicks off 5-game homestand

Flyers 5, Coyotes 4 (OT): Wild win kicks off 5-game homestand

BOX SCORE

The Flyers came back from a four-game road trip and gave the fans one impressive comeback.

Shayne Gostisbehere scored the game-winner 1:01 into overtime to give the Flyers a 5-4 overtime victory Thursday over the Coyotes.

They’re now 4-0-1 in their last five games.

How did the Flyers greet their home fans and how did they almost let it get away in a span of just 24 seconds?

Here are my observations from the Wells Fargo Center:

• Dave Hakstol called a timeout after the Flyers allowed two second-period shorthanded goals in 24 seconds.

The first one was unfortunate after the referee got in the way of Gostisbehere trying to handle the puck along the boards and it got caught up in the ref’s skates. Just a bad break.

On the second shorthanded goal, Oskar Lindblom attempted to rim the puck around the boards, but it was intercepted and Michael Grabner (one of the top-five fastest players in the league) outraced Jakub Voracek before flipping a backhanded shot over Calvin Pickard’s shoulder. Just like that, the Flyers were down, 4-2.  

• The Flyers came out with the juice and energy they were hoping for as they scored two goals in the first 5:47 to grab an early 2-0 lead.

Travis Sanheim stepped up at the blue line and forced the turnover, but the eye-popping play was Claude Giroux’s pass to Travis Konecny in which he threaded a pass between two Arizona defenders. It was a great give-and-go play between Konecny and Giroux, the type of chemistry that’s starting to develop as they’ve now spent the past seven games together on the same line.

• Where did the Southern California version of Ivan Provorov go? The Flyers' top defender resumed his poor play on home ice with two first-period turnovers. Pickard had to bail out Provorov and the Flyers on both as a result.

Provorov was credited with three giveaways in the first 20 minutes and Christian Folin had a pair of turnovers as well. This is an area the Flyers must clean up if they are going to win consistently on home ice.

• Aside from the two shorthanded breakaways, I didn't like the first two goals Pickard allowed. The first came on the power play in which Pickard was screened, but he has to do a better job of fighting through the screen, especially on a shot from the point just inside the blue line.

Personally, I’d rather see the Flyers go with Alex Lyon, who looks more like an NHL-ready backup than Pickard.

Pickard was pulled for Brian Elliott during the second period.

• I liked the push the Flyers had in the final 10 minutes of the third period. There weren’t many prime chances with the Coyotes clogging the middle of the ice. The Flyers ultimately scored the game-tying goal as Dale Weise broke free on a breakaway and took the lead pass from Gostisbehere. Weise had the puck taken off his stick for a brief moment but got it back at the last second to roof it past Darcy Kuemper.

Weise has been playing some of his best hockey since joining the Flyers and his first goal of the season couldn’t have come at a better time.  

• I’ve always admired the smoothness to Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s game, playing with such command and poise. For a defenseman who doesn’t appear to play a physical game, Ekman-Larsson is second on the Coyotes in hits and he had a huge collision on Lindblom in the third period.

Interestingly, a few years ago, former Flyers defenseman Mark Howe told me if he could build a team around any young defenseman, he’d select Ekman-Larsson, who is close to becoming a Norris Trophy finalist.  

• The Wells Fargo fans did their part, feeding off the success from the Flyers' recent road trip. They were on the edge of their seats as the Flyers fought for that game-tying goal and they broke out the “Let’s Go Flyers” chants midway through the third period. The Flyers can’t say they didn’t have the support from their fans in this one.

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Flyers stock watch: Scott Laughton seeing increased production, ice time

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Flyers stock watch: Scott Laughton seeing increased production, ice time

After a 1-0 loss to the Golden Knights on Saturday, the Flyers find themselves with a 2-3-0 mark through five games.

Who are the risers and fallers in our weekly stock watch? 

Stock up

Scott Laughton
Laughton’s three even strength goals leads the Flyers through five games. Starting the season on the fourth line, Laughton has also seen an increase in ice time as he’s jumped up to play with Mikhail Vorobyev and Wayne Simmonds. The left winger has also proven to be an invaluable contributor on the Flyers’ penalty kill leading all forwards in PK minutes. Saturday against the Golden Knights, Laughton’s aggressiveness led to a shorthanded breakaway. If Oskar Lindblom misses significant time, Laughton may even jump up to the Flyers’ second line once Nolan Patrick returns.

Radko Gudas
Radko Gudas should have no concerns that he’ll be replaced by Christian Folin anytime soon after Folin’s poor performance in Colorado. Gudas has not only contributed offensively with three assists in a 7-4 win in Ottawa but he’s been a steadying presence for Travis Sanheim, who is starting to develop a cohesion with Gudas as the team’s third defensive pairing. While he may be a below average puck mover, the puck possession metrics also favor Gudas despite starting a majority of his shifts in the defensive zone. 

Dale Weise
Weise started the season as the Flyers’ 14th forward and appeared to be a healthy scratch until injuries and ineffectiveness forced Dave Hakstol to utilize the 30-year-old winger. To Weise’s credit, he's effective when he plays with an edge, which he has done in his past two games. He has the speed to jump in hard and strong on the forecheck, creating takeaways and giving the Flyers’ fourth line a spark and some much-needed energy. Weise recorded two assists against Ottawa for his first multi-point effort in his last 47 games.  

Stock down

Andrew MacDonald
It’s been a slow start for MacDonald, who revealed on Friday that he’s not playing at 100 percent after coming back early from an offseason injury sustained prior to training camp. MacDonald also believes the two preseason games he played may have been premature. As a result, the Flyers’ defenseman has struggled in the first week and a half, allowing a team-high six goals at even strength. The MacDonald-Hagg pairing has also yielded a lot of time in the Flyers’ zone and a significant amount of shots on net.

Travis Konecny
Two games into the season, Dave Hakstol was ready to abandon Konecny’s role on the top line with Sean Couturier and Claude Giroux. Konecny’s ice time has taken a direct hit, playing nearly 16 minutes in the opener in Vegas to just under 12 minutes in each of his past two games. With just one assist in his first five games, Konecny doesn’t seem to be playing with the same degree of confidence he had at the end of last season when he scored 18 goals over a 33-game span. He still hasn’t weeded out the high-risk plays that can lead to opposition scoring chances.

Nolan Patrick
For a player that many expected a big sophomore season out of, it’s been a tough start for Patrick. He didn’t have a strong preseason and it appears it has carried over into the start of the regular season. Patrick left the game in Ottawa in the first period with an upper-body injury and never returned. Prior to that game, Patrick was a minus-5 over his first three games, failing to register a point centering a line with Oskar Lindblom and Jake Voracek. We haven’t seen the jump and assertiveness in Patrick’s game that we saw when he finished his rookie campaign strong.

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