Jordan Weal looking to spark offense playing left wing on new Flyers' line

Jordan Weal looking to spark offense playing left wing on new Flyers' line

VOORHEES, N.J. — The last time we saw Jordan Weal in the Flyers' lineup was the final game of last season against the Islanders.

Tomorrow afternoon at the Wells Fargo Center, Weal, a 24-year-old center, will make his season debut at left wing on a new line with Sean Couturier and Jakub Voracek.

It’s one of three line shakeups coach Dave Hakstol instituted on Friday at Skate Zone after Weal’s call-up from the Phantoms, as Travis Konecny was placed on injured reserve for the next month to six weeks with a left ankle and knee injury (see story).

This is a different look for Couturier, as this line will obviously not be a checking unit like the one he’s been centering with Nick Cousins and Matt Read.

“Coots can still play that two-way role, no matter the make-up of his line,” Hakstol said. “He’s still going to play his game and we’re not asking him to change his role … That line has a similar look to early in the year with T.K. on that left side.”

Weal is the AHL’s second leading scorer (45 points) and tallied 15 goals at Lehigh Valley this season. The Flyers have scored just 13 goals over the last 10 games and could use a few more right now.

He was mostly a center with the Phantoms, not left wing.

“Hockey is hockey,” Weal said. “You just got to go out and play. I get to play with some great players. Go out and work with them, move the puck and create some offense.”

Weal never really got a chance with the Flyers last season after coming here from Los Angeles as part of the Luke Schenn and Vinny Lecavalier deal with the Kings. He played three games, then injured his shoulder during a morning skate in New Jersey and missed 26 of the club’s final 27 games.

In training camp this past fall, he was a victim of numbers. That said, Weal has produced in the AHL.

“I’ve gotten great reports all the way from Day 1 when he went down,” Hakstol said. “The numbers speak for themselves but more importantly, it’s the feedback we’ve gotten from everybody in terms of his play … He’s obviously an offensive player, a skill player that creates offense …”

This will be Weal’s first time playing with Couturier. He played with R.J. Umberger and Voracek in the regular season finale.

“He’s a smart, fast player,” Voracek said. “He’s got a lot of skill. He can bring a lot to the lineup.”

There’s some pressure on Weal given the Flyers' scoring woes.

“Just play my game,” Weal said. “We got so much skill on this team here. If we play our game, work hard harder than the other team, we’re going to create some offense and it’s going to start going in.”

Loose pucks
• Read was hit by a shot from Michael Del Zotto below the belt line and was singing a different tune after practice. “My wife won’t like this,” Read quipped. He’s expected to play on Saturday.

• Del Zotto (bone bruise/leg) said he’s healthy enough to play but doesn’t expect to play until next week’s road trip to Western Canada … Michal Neuvirth will start in goal against San Jose.

• Other line changes: Claude Giroux will center Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds. Nick Cousins centers Michael Raffl and Read.

Travis Konecny placed on IR, Jordan Weal recalled from Phantoms

Travis Konecny placed on IR, Jordan Weal recalled from Phantoms

The Flyers on Friday morning placed rookie Travis Konecny (knee, ankle) on injured reserve. 

Taking his spot on the roster will be forward Jordan Weal, who has been recalled from the Phantoms. 

Konecny was injured in the second period of Monday's 2-0 loss to the St. Louis Blues. He was hit into the boards and didn't return. A source told CSNPhilly.com's Tim Panaccio that Konecny suffered a sprained left knee and ankle. The Flyers said Tuesday that Konecny would be out four to six weeks. 

Konecny, 19, has 22 points this season, tied for fifth most on the team. He has seven goals and 15 assists. 

Weal, 24, hasn't played with the Flyers this season. In 2015-16, after being traded to the Flyers from the Kings, Weal played in four games for the big club. 

Ron Hextall defends recent benchings of Shayne Gostisbehere, Travis Konecny

Ron Hextall defends recent benchings of Shayne Gostisbehere, Travis Konecny

VOORHEES, N.J. — Flyers general manager Ron Hextall defended his coach, Dave Hakstol, on the recent benchings of rookie Travis Konecny and sophomore defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere on Wednesday.
 
Coincidentally, Konecny will miss the next four to six weeks with a left ankle and knee injury (see story). 
 
Gostisbehere practiced with the first unit power play unit on Wednesday at Skate Zone. He, Hakstol and teammates said they weren’t sure Ghost would re-enter the lineup on Thursday against the Islanders.
 
Hextall said Ghost, who is having a poor offensive season and has struggled defensively down low, can learn from his third benching this season.
 
“There's a lot of lessons that young people have to learn,” Hextall said. “We've all gone through it. I've gone through it; you go through it with your kids. We've all got to learn lessons. This is part of the process of young players growing in the pros. That's all it is. ...
 
“We met with some season ticket holders (Tuesday night) and I think there's a little bit of an overreaction going on right now. These players are young and they sat out. But other guys have sat out too. Matt Read sat out, [Nick Schultz] sat out, other guys have sat out.
 
“It's not like you're just grabbing kids here and sitting them out. You're putting a lineup out there that you think has the best chance to win that night. That's Hak's job. His job is to win the next game.”
 
There's no doubt that both Gostisbehere's and Konency’s confidence has sagged with the benchings, especially Ghost, who was the runner-up last season in the Calder Trophy voting for “Rookie of the Year.”
 
“If a player can't handle a benching, whether it's one of our veterans or one of our younger players, we probably have the wrong players or the wrong people,” Hextall said. This is just part of the process. Is it fun? No. You think Hak wants to sit them out?
 
“You think I want them to sit out? You think the fans want them to sit out? You think the kids want to sit out? Of course not. Neither does Dale Weise or Matt Read or anybody else want to sit out. It's part of the process. It's a learning curve for these two kids and in the end they will be better for it.”
 
Though Hextall did not say it, it’s likely the Flyers will long-term injured reserve (LTIR) Konecny at some point as they have roughly $1 million in salary cap space.
 
Hextall said he wasn’t inclined to call up a player from the Phantoms for Thursday’s game against the Islanders but will have an extra forward here for next week’s road trip to Western Canada.
 
As for finding help via the trade route during Konecny's absence, that’s not likely to happen, Hextall said.
 
“I’d love to replace him, right? It’s not the direction we’re going,” Hextall said. “If something comes up out of the blue … but I don’t see anything out there right now that’s going to replace him.
 
“We do have a couple kids in the minors that are playing well and a couple vets, too. We’ll see where we go, but you never like to lose any player. Travis, he’s a good, young player. He brings a lot of energy too, which is something that we’ll certainly miss.”