VOORHEES, N.J. – Dale Weise was handed a four-year, $9.4-million free-agent contract by the Flyers a couple years ago and, as is the case with a lot of journeyman players, became an object of scrutiny because of the size of the deal.
Looking back, that’s what happens when you play 122 games and score only 12 goals.
It doesn’t mean Weise wasn’t trying. He just wasn’t getting a whole lot of ice time, or games for that matter.
He played in only 64 games in 2016-17 and just 46 last year.
This year, after a fine training camp, he found himself in the press box again for the first three games of the season.
But when James van Riemsdyk suffered a lower-body injury early on, Weise was given a chance and he’s made the most of it.
While not exactly tearing it up offensively, he’s played some of his best hockey for the two-plus seasons he’s been here.
Especially on this recent 3-0-1 road trip. Weise and Wayne Simmonds provide formidable book ends for diminutive center Jordan Weal.
“Weise and Simmonds have given us a line with some (physical) mentality,’’ coach Dave Hakstol said after Wednesday’s practice. “It’s a north line that puts pucks deep – both have been physical, they add that little edge and at the same time have been productive offensively.’’
Weise, 30, played the good soldier sitting out those first few games and maintaining a positive attitude.
“He had a good camp,’’ Hakstol said. “He came in with a purpose, ended up out of the lineup because other guys had good camps. But that didn’t change what he did coming to the rink on a daily basis.
“He got into the lineup, got into that role on the right wing fourth line, did a hell of a job and now he’s built that into a little extra ice time, a little bit different role with JVR out. He’s proved his versatility.’’
Weise did score 14 goals as recently as three years ago for the Montreal Canadiens, so he does know his way to the net.
His role is a bit different here but he’s played probably some of his best hockey since he arrived in Philadelphia.
“It’s just opportunity,’’ the Winnipeg native said. “I’ve said it a hundred times, when you come in and out of the lineup in a minimum role and play seven or eight minutes, that’s the hardest job in hockey.
“Your confidence is shattered every time you come in and out of the lineup. It’s just impossible to find any traction. (Now) It’s consistency when you come to the rink, I know who I am going to play with. I know I’m going to contribute, so that’s huge for my confidence.’’
Teammates on other lines have noticed.
“He’s playing well,’’ said captain Claude Giroux. “He’s playing a heavy game. I think his hockey sense is really good, he’s in good position. His line the last few games has been really good for us.’’
Skating session for van Riemsdyk
It was only a solo skate but the Flyers were encouraged to see van Riemsdyk out skating at the Skate Zone on Wednesday.
The big left wing has been sidelined since an Oct. 6 game in Colorado when he appeared to suffered a serious foot injury that required a walking boot.
The original prognosis was about six weeks, so it looks like JVR should be back in another 10 days or so.
The 29-year-old New Jersey native signed a five-year, $35-million free-agent contract back in July.
Lindblom, Patrick finding their groove
Both Oskar Lindblom and Nolan Patrick had big road trips for the Flyers. Lindblom set up a pair of crucial goals and Patrick netted a game-winner.
That line, which features Jake Voracek on the right side, continues to cause trouble around the opponent’s net.
“I think it’s part of the maturing process,’’ Wayne Simmonds said. “Patty was out for a while but now he’s getting into a groove. Those young guys are playing well and it’s good for our team.’’
Patrick got whacked in the head in the Ottawa game a few weeks ago and missed three contests but since then has found his rhythm on the forecheck.
“It seems like I’ve always had slow starts,’’ Patrick said. “It bothers you when you’re not producing. You’re not helping the team win. It’s not a switch you can just flip. I wasn’t playing bad hockey, I just wasn’t contributing the way I want to.’’
Goaltender Alex Lyon and forward Tyrell Goulbourne were returned to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Wednesday. Lyon was called up near the end of the road trip when Brian Elliott was injured in a practice accident.
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