WINNIPEG, Manitoba — After missing nine games because of a concussion, rookie center Nolan Patrick returned to the Flyers lineup Thursday night in Winnipeg, his home city.
“Obviously it’s exciting to get back in the lineup, and for it to be in my hometown, it’s pretty special,” he said before the game.
Patrick, the No. 2 overall pick in the draft in June, said he wouldn’t be cautious because he was coming off a head injury, suffered against Anaheim on Oct. 24.
“You have to play the same way,” said Patrick, who returned to his Winnipeg home and had a venison dinner cooked by his father on Wednesday. “Obviously, I’m healthy and ready to go. It’s not like I rushed back.”
Patrick centered Dale Weise and Wayne Simmonds, trying to spark a lineup that hasn’t scored in two-plus games, a span covering 156 minutes, 9 seconds.
Patrick, 19, had a goal, two assists, and a plus-2 rating in his first nine games. Entering Thursday, the Flyers were 5-4 with him in the lineup, and 3-4-2 without him.
Coach Dave Hakstol said Patrick handled things well in the nine games he played. “He’s had very good poise in all different situations,” he said. “An injury early on isn’t ideal, but it’s another learning experience a player has to handle.”
The third-year coach called Patrick a “smart player with good skill. To be a good offensive player, guys do it differently in this league, but he’s a guy who thinks a play or two ahead. He reads plays very well — and that’s not only on the offensive side, it’s on both sides of the puck.”
Patrick said he was disappointed in his previous two games from an offensive standpoint and needed to move his feet more.
Hakstol thought Patrick was being too hard on himself, and that “offensively, he was doing a lot of good things. Whether he was happy about the stats, that’s a different story. But I saw progression in his game as he adjusted. A few games before he went out with an injury, he was starting to make a lot of plays in some tight areas in key situations. They were all positives to me in the way he was growing in the offensive side of the game.”
Hakstol moved Jordan Weal, who played center for one game, back to left wing on a line with Val Filppula and Travis Konecny.
Breakaways. The Jets started goalie Connor Hellebuyck (9-1-2, 2.32 GAA, .930 save percentage). Steve Mason was disappointed not to face his former teammates. “I was looking forward to it … but we have one more game against you guys later in the year,” he said. “Maybe I’ll get the one back in Philly” on March 10. … Mason is third in Flyers history, behind Bernie Parent and Ron Hextall, in some goalie categories, including wins and games played. “Maybe that’s why Hexy didn’t want me back,” Mason kidded about the Flyers’ general manager.