Flyers Injury Update: Jordan Weal in, Nick Cousins out

Flyers Injury Update: Jordan Weal in, Nick Cousins out

NEWARK, N.J. -- In comes one forward, out goes the other.

That was the case for the Flyers on Thursday as they took on the Devils at the Prudential Center, trying to keep their heart beating in the playoff race.

Jordan Weal, who missed Wednesday's 4-0 win over the Penguins because of lower-body injury, returned to the lineup and rejoined the team's top line.

The 24-year-old has played well since being called up from AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley on Feb. 10. Entering Thursday, he had three goals and an assist in 11 games.

"Did some testing and stuff like that [Wednesday] to see if everything was all good and it was good news," Weal said pregame Thursday. "I'm ready to go now."

Weal has added much-needed speed and playmaking to the Flyers.

"He's proven so far he’s ready to take advantage of this opportunity and help our team, and that's what a player needs to do to be in the lineup," Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said. "He's done that from the first day he came in.

"He's continued to earn his way, game by game. He's a hungry player, and that's the way he's played every day."

Weal would not say he was 100 percent healthy.

"It is what it is, but we’re going to keep on moving forward," he said. "It will be good." 

Clearly good enough to give it a go for the Flyers, who were without Nick Cousins because of an upper-body injury. It's uncertain when Cousins suffered the injury but he is day to day. Playing limited minutes of late, Cousins totaled 8:52 of ice time in Wednesday's game.

Meanwhile, defenseman Brandon Manning missed a third straight game. He's recovering from an upper-body injury.

"Manning, he was good [Wednesday]," Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said. "Today, he's a little sore, so he's back to day to day."

Defenseman Nick Schultz replaced Manning for the third game in a row.

Forward Michael Raffl, who is expected to be out the remainder of the regular season with an upper-body injury, is on schedule in his recovery, according to Hextall.

Flyers Weekly Observations: Dismal start to critical Western Canada trip

Flyers Weekly Observations: Dismal start to critical Western Canada trip

Another week of Flyers hockey this season is behind us.
 
And it was another week that ended with not many positives to talk about involving the Flyers.
 
There were only two games this week and neither went well. On Wednesday, the Flyers dropped a 3-1 decision to the Flames in Calgary to kick off a crucial Western Canada road trip. Things didn’t get any better the next night in Edmonton, as the Flyers were blown away, 6-3, by the Oilers.
 
Let’s take a look back at what went wrong for the Flyers out in Alberta.
 
• It’s not just that the Flyers dropped the first two games of the road trip this past week. The Western Canada trip is always a tough one, especially for teams from the Eastern Conference that have to make the long trip out there. It’s the manner in which the Flyers lost both games that has to be the most disheartening factor. They were lethargic and you just didn’t see the kind of urgency you should see from a team, that as poor as it has played in recent weeks, is still in the thick of a playoff chase in the jam-packed Eastern Conference. In Calgary, the Flyers actually did come out of the gates hot with a goal by Nick Cousins 1:30 into the game, but it fell apart from there. They had 34 shots in that game, but not many testers on Flames goalie Brian Elliott. The next night in Edmonton, the Flyers were just overwhelmed and steamrolled from the second the puck dropped. It was all Oilers and the Flyers were just standing by. At the end of the day, the Flyers are still alive in this playoff race and you’d like to see the urgency that comes along with that.

• If there was one thing that summed up the Flyers’ lack of apparent urgency this past week, it had to be that ugly five-minute power play that included a two-minute two-man advantage Wednesday night in Calgary. Ugly would actually be quite the compliment. It was downright brutal. First off, the Flyers were handed a gift because Alex Chiasson’s spear on Cousins was not a major penalty. Chiasson shouldn’t be spearing anyone, but that was a love tap compared to some others around the league this season. But the Flyers fumbled that gift away with a power play that was basically a practice drill for the Calgary penalty killers. The Flyers slogged around in the neutral zone or unsuccessfully dumped the puck in or turned it over. It goes back again to urgency. The best power plays feel the urgency to score every time out on the ice. It just wasn’t there Wednesday night with the low-percentage cross-ice passes and inability to track down the puck. The Flames had 11 clears compared to two shots for the Flyers. It was as disappointing as a power play can be. Over the last six games, the Flyers’ power play is just 2 for 19. That is not helping with the scoring woes.
 
• Hopefully this Connor McDavid-Brandon Manning nonsense is now over after Manning answered the bell and fought the much larger Patrick Maroon on Thursday in Edmonton. The whole thing was dumbfounding to begin with. McDavid lost an edge while Manning was defending against him last season when he broke his collarbone. It should have ended right then and there because for someone to even insinuate intent on Manning’s part or anything other than that it was an unfortunate play would be asinine. It continued to be dumbfounding when McDavid stirred the pot during and after December’s meeting between the teams. For it to even reach the point it did Thursday was just stupefying. And Milan Lucic’s low blow on Manning behind the Flyers’ net Thursday was cheap, to say the least. But good for Manning to stand up to Maroon.

• If there was one positive to take from this past week, it had to be the play of Cousins in Calgary on Wednesday. He was all over the ice. He was making plays happen with five shots on net, bringing energy and being a pest. He’s at the top of his game and most effective when he brings that energy and pest behavior. The goal he scored was well-deserved and he should have had another one if not for the great save Elliott made at the end of that long, wretched Flyers power play. If Cousins can play that effective way more consistently, he can be a valuable piece going forward for the Flyers. Most of the good teams in the league have that one player other teams just hate to play against.

• I also like what Cousins had to say in the locker room after the loss Wednesday. “We’ve got to make it harder on them,” he said. “We’ve got to get more traffic. It’s the same excuse here it feels like after every game. We’ve got to score more goals — simple as that.” He didn’t massage his way around anything, He came out and stated bluntly what’s going on right now. The Flyers can talk about playing good hockey and not getting the results. But the results come when you earn them. Can we say that about the Flyers earning results the past few weeks? Against the Sharks last Saturday, sure. But any other games?

• Shame that Jordan Weal was injured in Thursday’s loss to the Oilers. He was doing everything he could to try and provide a spark. He was bringing some of that much-needed energy and, more importantly, trying to make things happen by firing the puck toward the net. He had a team-high six shots on goal Wednesday in Calgary. His combination of speed and skill makes him an intriguing player going forward. The Flyers have to hope he recovers sooner rather than later so they can get an extended look at him with the big club.

• Is the offside challenge working as effectively as it should? It sure looked like the Oilers were offside before the opening goal of Thursday’s contest. But the league still ruled it a good goal. And you may recall the eight-minute delay in the Chicago-Minnesota game a few weeks ago as officials reviewed an offside play before a goal. In essence, offside is a pretty cut-and-dry rule. The play is offside or it isn’t. I’m not crazy to say there shouldn’t be this much grey area on a pretty cut-and-dry rule, right?

Coming up this week: Sunday night at Vancouver (10 p.m./CSN), Wednesday vs. Washington (8 p.m./NBCSN), Saturday’s Stadium Series game at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh (8 p.m./NBC10).

Nick Cousins scores, draws 5-minute major, stands out in Flyers' loss

Nick Cousins scores, draws 5-minute major, stands out in Flyers' loss

CALGARY, Alberta — The play was long since over when Alex Chiasson skated by Nick Cousins near the Flyers' bench and speared him.
 
Well, truth is, it seemed more a poke into the left side of his midsection.
 
Cousins, excellent at drawing penalties, sold it and Chiasson was tossed from the game barely eight minutes into play, setting up a five-minute power play for the Flyers. Unfortunately, the Flyers were simply dysfunctional in every respect.
 
While it’s true these two teams, who meet just twice a year, don’t like each other, there was no real reason why Chiasson did what he did.
 
“I’m not quite sure, it wasn’t even part of the play,” Cousins said. The play had stopped with a whistle on an icing call, and the Flyers were making a line change.

“I was trying to change and he comes up and spears me. I think the ref made the right call.”
 
Cousins had a very strong game, scoring the Flyers' lone goal in the team's 3-1 loss (see game story). He played 15:17 and had five shots. Only Jordan Weal, who also stood out, shot the puck more — six times.
 
Cousins also won 8 of 10 faceoffs.
 
“I thought we took it to them most of the game,” he said. “Their goalie (Brian Elliott) played well, but that’s been the excuse the last 10 to 15 games. We've got to make it harder on them. We've got to get more traffic. It’s the same excuse here it feels like after every game. We’ve got to score more goals — simple as that.”
 
The Flyers wasted that power play with two shots — both during a 5-on-3 portion that would come later — while Calgary cleared the zone an amazing 11 times.
 
The Flyers' first-unit power play was nothing short of awful.
 
“It wasn’t demoralizing,” Wayne Simmonds said. “We've just got to bear down and put the puck in the back of the net, guys. We’re playing good hockey here. We’re not scoring goals, but playing good hockey. Eventually, it’s gonna turn and when it turns, we’ll score in bunches.”
 
The power play went 0 for 4 and is 1 for 16 over the last five games.
 
Loose pucks
Brayden Schenn had six hits. ... There were 13 NHL scouts at this game, including representatives from the Rangers and Islanders in the Metro Division. ... This game marked the beginning of the 14th set of back-to-back games for the Flyers. They meet the Oilers on Thursday for the first time in their new digs. ... Former Flame and Flyer Joel Otto, an assistant coach with the WHL Calgary Hitmen, dropped by the Flyers' morning skate. He took a photo with fellow Bemidji State grad Matt Read.