VOORHEES, N.J. — Jordan Weal didn’t blink an eye when he found himself at center for Monday’s practice at the Skate Zone.
That’s because Weal, who’s been playing on the wing for most of the two years he’s been with the Flyers, says he skated the majority of his junior and American Hockey League games in the pivot spot.
Mindful that his secondary scoring lines have only a grand total of 46 points compared to 60 for his top line (Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, Jake Voracek) alone, coach Dave Hakstol decided to shake things up as the team prepared for Tuesday night’s game at Minnesota.
Weal has only two goals in 17 games this season after registering eight in the final 19 games of last season.
Hakstol put Weal on what amounts to a second line between right wing Wayne Simmonds (a mainstay on that unit) and Dale Weise on left.
“We’re just trying something that’s going to click so we can get a little more offense throughout the lineup,’’ Weal said.
“I’ve played a lot of games at center ice. I’ve done this before so it’s not that big of a change.’’
A new look might be what the Flyers need.
“We just changed the mix a little bit,’’ Hakstol said. “It gives everybody just a bit of a new combination. We haven’t had Weal at center since he’s been here but he’s a natural center so I want to see if he can add a little punch up the middle there which I think he can.’’
Weal signed a new contract in the offseason so it would seem only natural he would like to get the offensive side of his game going.
If he gets on track, maybe that line will get moving too. Simmonds hasn’t scored a goal in nine games.
“I don’t think the numbers not being there are indicative of how the play has been,’’ Weal said. “I think we’ve been generating a lot of chances. Just haven’t been able to find the back of the net.
“With a mix like that, maybe it can give the guys a little jump. Maybe a little spark will happen and we can get some chemistry going.’’
Nolan Patrick, who has been limited to just nine games due to a suspected concussion, practiced for the first time on Monday but wore a non-regular color jersey, which means he won’t be playing in the Minnesota game, although Winnipeg on Thursday might be a possibility.
“It was fun to get back out there and be part of the team again,’’ he said. “It was a pretty short skate but it felt good.’’
Patrick admits it’s been frustrating to sit and watch at the start of his first year with the team.
“I’m trying to stay positive,’’ he said. “I just want to come back and try and contribute as much as I can.’’
He’s making the trip and will get to see family and friends when he arrives in his native Winnipeg.
“Hopefully I’m ready to go,’’ he said. “It would be pretty cool to play in my hometown.’’
Thoughts on Hall of Famer Recchi
Mark Recchi was scheduled to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto on Monday night.
Giroux and Simmonds both said Recchi was a worthy selection.
“He was a player you don’t like to play against,’’ Giroux said. Tried to outwork everybody and he did. He was in Boston when I played against him. He was real tough to play against.’’
“By the time I played him, he was in Boston,’’ Simmonds said. “A little bit of a – I can’t say it – but he was a little bit dirty. But you could tell the competitive spirit he had. Obviously he’s one of the alltime greats going into the Hockey Hall of Fame.’’
It was Recchi’s grit that impressed players throughout the NHL. That and the fact he won three Stanley Cups with three different teams in three different decades.
“I think it was just his determination with his size, the skill that he had,’’ Simmonds said. “He combined it all. He was like a bulldog out there.’’