WINNIPEG, MB -- It's always a happy homecoming for Dale Weise. But the Winnipeg-born pro may have a bit of an extra jump in his skates given his recent play of late as the Philadelphia Flyers kick off a four-game road trip against the Jets on Tuesday night.
Weise is having a forgettable first season with the Flyers after signing a four-year, $9.4 million free agent contract last summer, with just four goals and four assists through his first 53 games. But he seems to have found some chemistry lately playing on a line with Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier, putting up two goals and an assist in his past three outings.
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"It's been a tough year. Probably my toughest year mentally as a professional. It's just been extremely frustrating," Weise said followingTuesday's morning skate at the MTS Centre.
"But I'm real happy with where my game's at lately. Our line's really clicking. It's a heavy line, north-south, hopefully we keep things strong here at the end of the year."
Weise is expecting to have a large contingent of supporters in the crowd.
"It makes it more special when you come home. We only get in here once (a year)," Weise said. "It's nice. I got to spend some family time, see my brother's kids. It's always special playing in front of family and friends."
Despite being seven points out of a playoff spot with just 11 regular-season games remaining, Weise said the Flyers aren't simply playing out the string.
"We've kind of hung in there all year," he said. "We're playing some good hockey the last month or so. We've had a pretty good run here."
The Flyers (33-30-8) will look to build off Sunday's 4-3 overtime win over Carolina by facing a Jets team that has been ravaged by injuries
The Jets (32-33-7) will be without five regular defensemen for tonight's game. Their blue line will include three call-ups from the team's AHL affiliate, including one (Nelson Nogier) making his professional debut.
The Jets are essentially playing for next year, sitting 10 points back of the final Western Conference wildcard playoff spot with just 10 games remaining. But they're coming off a 5-4 victory over Minnesota on Sunday and appear to still have plenty of fight left in them.
"Every point is critical," Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said Tuesday. "We don't have any more we can let go. We're in the fight and we have to make sure we take care of things we control and be at our very best."
He's liked what he's seen from Weise and his new linemates.
"The three of them together have been effective," Hakstol said. "Playing a straight line game with pace. With that line there's a little bit of heaviness. This time of year, with the types of games that are played right now, the three of them have been effective."
Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds said games against the Jets are usually physical, fast-paced and include plenty of scoring. The Flyers won 5-2 over Winnipeg in their only other meeting this season back in mid-November.
"They're a big strong team. A lot of offensive power," Simmonds said. "Their forwards like to get up and go. Their forwards are usually flying out of the zone."
Hakstol said Tuesday he's going with the exact same lineup from Sunday's Carolina game but that there could be a few "tweaks" to the lines.
The morning skate was an optional one, with just 13 players participating, so it's tough to get an idea of what those may be.
Steve Mason will get the start in goal for the Flyers.
Projected Flyers Lineup:
F: Weal - Giroux - Simmonds
Konecny - Voracek - Filppula
Schenn - Weise - Couturier
Vandevelde - Bellemare - Read
D: Provorov - MacDonald
Schultz - Gostisbehere
Del Zotto - Gudas