It’s been a frustrating start of the season for Jordan Weal and Travis Konecny, young wingers the Flyers expected to blossom into dependable scorers.
With about one quarter of the season completed, the speedy forwards have just two goals apiece.
“It’s been a lot of hard work and not much to show for it,” Weal said after playing on a line with center Nolan Patrick and right winger Wayne Simmonds during Monday’s practice in Voorhees. “It seems like we’ve been getting three or four chances every game, and nothing right now seems to be going in. It’s one of those things that happens during the season, and you just have to keep working and keep battling because once it breaks open, hopefully it’ll break wide open.”
Weal, 25, had eight goals in his final 19 games last season and signed a two-year deal for a total of $3.5 million. He missed Saturday’s overtime loss to Calgary after taking a high elbow Thursday from Winnipeg’s Dustin Byfuglien – no penalty was called – but says he is ready to face visiting Vancouver (9-8-3) on Tuesday.
Konecny, a second-year winger who scored 11 times in 70 games during his rookie season, and Weal each have one goal over their last 16 games – a big reason why the Flyers’ second and third lines have been unproductive.
“I think personally I can get more pucks to the net,” Konecny said. “I’ve given up a lot of Grade A opportunities, and when I am shooting, I’m missing the net, so I just need to make sure when I am getting those good opportunities I’m putting pucks on net and making him make the save.”
Coach Dave Hakstol thinks Konecny, 20, had a solid start but has been recently “trying to put a little too much emphasis on scoring and that has a way of breaking down the rest of your game. He’s got to snap back to where he was for the majority of the year. Just play the game the right way. With the number of opportunities he generates, at some point in time it’s going to turn his way offensively.”
Hakstol said the fact Weal has been in and out of the lineup because of various injuries – he has missed three games – has contributed to his inconsistency.
“I think it’s been a challenge for him to get into any real good rhythm,” Hakstol said. “We need a little bit better from him offensively, and I think he knows that, but at the same time, the first thing is to get a good consistent rhythm to the way he’s playing. From there, he’s a good offensive player. Good things will happen.”
The Flyers’ top line of Sean Couturier, Claude Giroux, and Jake Voracek has combined to score 26 of the team’s 56 goals (46.4 percent).
“At least we have Jake, G and Coots going [well], and if can keep working and sticking to our process, it’s going to come eventually here,” Weal, who was the last person on the ice at the end of Monday’s practice, said of the second and third lines.
Despite losing four straight and sitting at the bottom of the eight-team Metropolitan Division, the Flyers (8-8-4) entered Monday just five points out of first place. Starting Tuesday, they play three games in four nights.
“When we look back after these three games, we’re going to be in a better position in the standings and it’s pretty exciting,” Giroux said. “…We’ve been putting ourselves in a good situation in the third period, but we haven’t found a way to get it done. It’s just about finding a way.”
Before it’s too late.