Unlikeliest Hero Dale Weise Emerges to Save Flyers From More Boos

You almost had to do a double take.

With just over two minutes remaining in regulation Thursday and the Flyers pressing to score that game-tying goal, Shayne Gostisbehere sprung an orange jersey who was looking for that breakaway pass.

At that exact moment, it was somewhat of a blur. A right-handed shot hoping to elude a hard-charging defender. It appeared to be No. 28, the captain. No, wait a second, that's No. 22! That's Dale Weise!

Could that possibly be, scoring the game-tying goal with a quick flick of the wrist, roofing a shot over the shoulder of goaltender Darcy Kuemper? The same Dale Weise who was a healthy scratch for the first three games of the regular season?

"I was cheating a little bit, we were down a goal," Weise said after the Flyers' 5-4 overtime win over the Coyotes (see observations). "I was hoping to kind of turn the puck over and I took off and I honestly thought he was going to catch me. Thankfully, his stick wasn't there at the end. That's huge for our team."

The timing couldn't have been more perfectly crafted to cap a rally from a two-goal deficit and send the game to overtime. Weise had not scored since Dec. 20, 2017, a 31-game goalless drought combined with 32 more games in which he didn't even dress. From the second half of last season to the opening week of this season, it appeared as if the nine-year veteran was merely clogging up a roster spot for one of the younger prospects, whether that was Nicolas Aube-Kubel or someone else.

"Dale has been in some dark times where he doesn't think he's going to play again the rest of the year, but he works every day and it's showing right now," Gostisbehere said. "He's getting the results and he scored a big goal for us tonight."

"It feels great, I think the situation to tie the game like that - I think that feels better," Weise said. "I'm not a guy who stresses over points or goals or things like that. I don't really judge myself on goals. If I'm playing well, that's a huge plus for me."

Understand, had the Flyers been in that same situation a week ago, Weise never would have seen the ice, down a goal, inside the final three minutes of regulation. Following the injury to Corban Knight, head coach Dave Hakstol was forced to improvise with his lines once again, which led to Weise earning a promotion from a fourth-line checking role to a chance to play on the third unit with Jordan Weal and Wayne Simmonds.

"He's earned it. He's earned everything," Hakstol said. "He's a confident player right now and maybe that was part of what was lacking in his game over the past couple of years."

"Confidence is a huge thing, Weise said. "You get a regular role, you're not sitting on the bench, waiting 20 minutes for another shift. I know two, three minutes, I'm catching my breath and getting back out there. It's huge for me. I think my physical play of getting back to the body, I think that's where my game starts to roll."

During the morning skate, James van Riemsdyk joined his teammates for the first time since sustaining a leg injury in the second game of the season. When JVR is ready to roll, he will in all likelihood take Weise's spot on the Flyers' third line, resulting in Weise being bumped down once again to accommodate the added firepower.

Perhaps he saw that coming more than his electrifying game-tying goal.

"I'm comfortable playing wherever," Weise said. "I think when you get a string of games to play this well and get your confidence, I think it's easy to keep it rolling, whether I go back down to the fourth line and play eight minutes. You get that belief back in yourself to start contributing offensively. It's huge." 

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