Ever since the last time the Flyers were shutout, Jordan Weal has been on the third line. He wasn’t demoted because of his play. But, the reason is the emergence of Travis Konecny needing more minutes on a nightly basis.
During the 3-0 shutout loss in Chicago, Jordan Weal was moved to the Dale Weise and Jori Lehtera line because Konecny was playing like a man possessed. Since that game, Weal has been with Lehtera and Weise, and Konecny has been with Filppula and Simmonds.
This has caused problems for Weal because he has to create all his scoring chance for himself. Weise and Lehtera aren’t known for their offense or playmaking abilities. That’s a problem for Weal because when you look at his success last year, he was being setup, not creating them for himself.
The obstacle is Weal isn’t the biggest of guys. Weal, listed at 5’10” 179 Ibs, doesn’t play a physical game and is easily moved off the puck by bigger guys. A problem for him when he has to create all of his scoring chances by himself.
Help may be coming though for Weal. Flyers injured rookie center, Nolan Patrick, practiced in a optional morning skate with team Saturday for first time since his concussion. That’s a promising sign for Weal. Patrick, who is a playmaking center, will slot back into his 3rd line center spot, with Weal on his wing, when he returns.
“We are hoping to practice on Monday.” GM Ron Hextall said about Patrick. “I suspect he will travel. He needs to be on the ice with the team.”
Here are 4 more observations from the Flyers 1-0 loss to the Wild…
The Flyers powerplay struggled again, going 0 for 3 with only 4 shots and no scoring chances. The reason? Multiple things have gone wrong for the Flyers powerplay units. The pass first mentality is causing problems, the quality of shots isn’t the greatest, and the finishing just isn’t there right now. However, issues with the powerplay aren’t something that is concerning Coach Dave Hakstol.
“You have to be careful there. If it’s just one night, our power play has been pretty good. Tonight, we didn’t connect, we weren’t able to finish on one.” Hakstol said. “I did think it terms of shooting mentality, we didn’t get many off from up top.”
Success from the powerplay previously has come from shots from the point. This is something the Flyers have been struggling with. The Flyers passed up too many shots from the point tonight, which lead to a poor night on the powerplay.
“Yeah, some good puck movement. There’s good opportunities.” Konecny said. “Pucks are getting to the net. There’s scrums around the net. Sometimes the bounces don’t go your way.”
Penalty Kill Shines Again
Penalty killing has not been one of the Flyers strong suits over the last couple of years. This year, the Flyers penalty kill still isn’t the greatest. However, they are riding some great success at the moment and it continued tonight.
Coming into tonight, the Flyers have killed off five straight penalties, all against the Blackhawks Thursday. They continued that success tonight killing off all three penalties tonight. The success of the penalty kill unit hasn’t gone unnoticed by Coach Dave Hakstol.
“Our PK worked hard and did a good job again.” Hakstol said.
The penalty kill units have been using a 2-1-1 formation, also known as a triangle chaser. This means three killers form a triangle, normally two defenseman and one forward, and the last forward chases. Normally, this should work. However, as you have seen in previous games, when you do this against better passing teams, it doesn’t work that well, though. his has been when the Flyers have struggled.
Elliott Strong Again
Elliott shined again. However, yes it was a losing effort, but he did keep the Flyers in the game. He made big save after big save in the second to keep the game tied at 0-0. Elliott has struggled this year with consistent play. But, he has now put together three good games in a row and looks to be turning a corner.
“I mean you just try to get better every game.” Elliott said. “I don’t analyze it like that, im not trying to compare myself to myself or anybody else right now.”
The goal Elliott let in was not his felt. It was a lucky bounce off the back boards, right to the stick of Zucker. The play didn’t look dangerous until that bounce. Travis Konecny blocked the Matt Dumba shot from the point easily. However, the bounce off the end boards caused the problem for the Flyers.
“Yeah, I think it deflected then off the boards and kind of right to the back post,” Elliott said. “So you’re just trying to get over there and cover it and just went off me a weird angle and went in. It’s not something you want but that’s the way the cookie crumbles I guess.”
Hagg Gaining Confidence
With the injury to Andrew MacDonald, no one has benefited more on the Flyers defense than Robert Hagg. Hagg, who originally was paired with Gostisbehere, has found his calling now playing with Flyers #1 defenseman, Ivan Provorov. The pairing started out a little shaky, but now the two feel very comfortable with each other.
“I mean it took a game or two and I think the last couple games I think we’ve played pretty good.” Hagg said. “We talk more out there and help each other out and I think that’s a huge thing. If you talk more it’s gonna be better for both of us and we can build on that.”
This confidence and chemistry has lead Coach Dave Hakstol to trust the pairing more. Hagg has seen his ice-time increase dramatically since being paired with Provorov. If the pairing can keep up the good play, Hakstol might have a great #1 pairing that he might not be able to breakup when Andrew MacDonald returns.
“I think we’ve played pretty good together,” Hagg said. “We can build more chemistry and more of a play together, but so far so good.”
Result : Flyers 0 – Wild 1
Record : 8 – 7 – 2
Next Game : Tuesday 11/14 Minnesota Wild, St. Paul Minnesota