To jump-start the struggling second and third lines, Flyers coach Dave Hakstol is juggling those units for Tuesday’s game in Minnesota.
The most intriguing change: Jordan Weal will move from third-line left winger to second-line center.
Weal was on a line with left winger Dale Weise and right winger Wayne Simmonds during practice Monday in Voorhees.
“We’re just trying to find something that’s going to click, so we can get a little more offense throughout the lineup,” Weal said after practice. “I’ve played a lot of hockey games at center ice, so it’s not that big of a change.”
Weal said he has “two guys on my wings who are fast, strong guys, so I just have to try to feed off them and it should be good.”
Other changes: Travis Konecny will slide from second-line left winger to third-line right winger; Val Filppula will drop from second- to third-line center; Jori Lehtera will stay on the third line but move from center to left wing; and Weise will shift from third-line right wing to second-line left wing.
“Both of those lines have two guys that have played together before, and it’s just a little bit of a shift,” Hakstol said.
Weal is a natural center.
“I want to see if he can add a little bit of punch up the middle, which I think he can,” Hakstol said.
Weal has just two goals this season, and one in his last 14 games. Simmonds is goalless in his last nine games, and Weise has one goal in his last eight. Lehtera (goalless in 11 games) and Konecny (one goal in 13 games) have also struggled.
“We’ve been generating a lot of chances but haven’t been able to find the back of the net,” Weal said.
“We have to do a better job getting to the net, mucking it up and getting greasy [goals],” said Simmonds, who has been slowed by a multitude of injuries. “I haven’t been very good myself in probably the last 10 games. It’s up to me and it’s up to the rest of the guys to get our noses dirty.”
The Flyers are coming off a 1-0 loss Saturday to Minnesota, the fourth time they have been blanked in 17 games.
“Guys are working hard and getting opportunities, but sometimes just a little bit of a change has a way of breaking things loose,” Hakstol said. “… Maybe it’ll add a little spark for [Weal] and his linemates.”
The Flyers (8-7-2) have been getting most of their production from the top line, so the juggling of the second and third units isn’t a surprise.
“We’re just frustrated we’re not helping the team as much as we can,” Weal said. “Our first line’s playing great, and the [fourth line, centered by Scott Laughton] is buzzing around and playing well. The two lines in the middle, we’re definitely playing hard and trying to make things happen. We’re just about there, and maybe a couple little switches will flip the switch for us.”
Minnesota goalie Devan Dubnyk has recorded consecutive shutouts and has run his scoreless streak to 136 minutes, 20 seconds.
“They play very well defensively and they didn’t give us much,” captain Claude Giroux said of Saturday’s shutout loss. “I think we’ve generated a lot of offense this year, and that was one of the games we couldn’t create much.”
They get another crack at Dubnyk on Tuesday, when they will try to stop Jason Zucker from making some history. Zucker has scored his team’s last six goals. The NHL record is seven straight, set by Ottawa’s Cy Denneny in 1920-21 and equaled by Chicago’s Brian Noonan in 1991-92.
Rookie center Nolan Patrick, who has missed the last eight games with a concussion and hasn’t played since Oct. 24, skated with the team, and the Flyers hope he can return Thursday in Winnipeg, his home city.
“It’s a process after you’ve been away from the team for a couple weeks,” Hakstol said. “It’s the front end of that process, and it’s good to have him back on the ice. He’s on the front end of conditioning, timing. There’s a lot of things that have to come back to game level.”
Elliott in nets
Brian Elliott will make his third straight start on Tuesday. He has a 1.00 GAA and .970 save percentage over his last two games. … The Flyers recalled defenseman Mark Alt from the Phantoms. … The Flyers are 1 for 16 on the power play in their last five games.