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PRACTICE UPDATE: Possible Patrick return, shootout drills, A-Mac Skates

News, Notes & Storylines to come out of Flyers practice at Winnipeg

by PhiladelphiaFlyers.com @NHLFlyers / http://www.philadelphiaflyers.com

One of the big questions heading into Thursday's game at Winnipeg is whether rookie Nolan Patrick will return to the lineup after missing nine games with an upper-body injury.

"For the most part. It's been a little while now, but I'm feeling pretty good," said Patrick when asked if he felt he has made progress from the last skate in Minnesota to today.

As is team policy, no word on whether Patrick will return until closer to game time tomorrow or another day, but Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol did praise his work ethic and teammates around him to help throughout the process.

"It's hard on any player when you're out of the lineup for an extended period of time," said Hakstol. "Sometimes more-so for a young player but he's worked hard and done all the things asked of him and most importably he's got a good group of teammates around him. I think those are some of the most important people in a player's life when he is out of the lineup."

Some extra motivation for Patrick is that it would mark the first game in his hometown as an NHL player for the Winnipeg native, who grew up literally down the street, 10 minutes away from the Bell MTS Centre.

"Anywhere would be nice, but if I was able to play here it would be pretty cool to play my first game in my hometown, but the decision is not really up to me, so we'll see what happens," added Patrick.

Video: Hear from Patrick following practice in Winnipeg

 A RETURN HOME

With or without Patrick, the Flyers could see an extra boost as it marks a homecoming of sorts for two other Flyers who come from the Winnipeg area.

Dale Weise hails from nearby and still watches the Jets as he has many family and friends in the area that go to games.

"They're a good team. Personally, I watch a lot of their games and follow them quite a bit," said Weise. "All my buddies watch them so we talk about it and anytime they have a game on I'm watching."

Weise co-led the Flyers in Tuesday's loss to the Wild with five shots on goal. It was his first game playing alongside Jordan Weal and Wayne Simmonds and despite the loss, the way the club played, he knows good things are coming if they keep charging.

"A ton of chances," said Weise. "Like I said, for a majority of our team if we keep playing like that we're going to score some goals."

Count rookie d-man Travis Sanheim among the group also returning home to appear in front of his family for the first time. Even though he spent his junior hockey in Alberta with the Calgary Hitmen, Sanheim was born and grew up in Elkhorn, Manitoba about three hours away from downtown Winnipeg.

"It's the closest NHL team to my hometown and I'm going to have a lot of family and friends supporting me tomorrow night. It's going to be a fun experience," said Sanheim. "Any time that you can go home play in front of a lot of people that grew up supporting you and they can come and make the trip to the game, I think it's going to be a fun time and I've definitely been looking forward to it."

Sanheim even remembers when he visited the team while he was playing junior hockey back in 2014 and was home for the holiday break. 

It was that visit where he witnessed a fairly important event in Flyers history as the club earned a 4-3 overtime comeback victory for goaltender Rob Zepp who made his NHL debut at age 33 and became the oldest goalie to win his NHL debut since 41-year-old Hugh Lehman accomplished the feat in 1926.

DUELING SHOOTOUTS

Practice featured a lot of shooting drills, but no line rushes to see if any changes to the lineup would be made as they prepare to take on the Jets.

What was featured at practice was a shootout contest among two teams divided, allowing the team to have some fun.

"You cannot change the past. That's the way I look at it," said forward Jakub Voracek. "[Did] we deserved better? I didn't look at it that way. We lost the game, 3-0, 1-0, we didn't score goals. We didn't deserve to win. We didn't score, so a little fun in practice is important and hopefully it's going to work tomorrow."

A-MAC ON ICE

Andrew MacDonald accompanied the team on the trip, but did not skate in Minnesota as he continues to rehab from the lower-body injury he suffered on Oct. 21 vs. Edmonton.

That changed at the teams scheduled practice today as MacDonald took to the ice with his teammates. He was on the ice for the full duration and was jumping in on breakouts and drills down low in the zone, while also taking and setting up his teammates with one-timers.

"I felt pretty good. Obviously it was the first skate so timing is a little bit off, but I felt good especially for being off as long as I was," said MacDonald. "It's just nice to get out there and move around, feel the puck out there on the ice."

MASE ON PACE?

We won't know until most likely after the morning skate on Thursday, but the Flyers could see an old friend in the opposition's net in Steve Mason. Mason departed the Flyers via free agency during the summer after spending parts of five seasons with the club.

Mason got off to a rough start with his new team, but has rebounded lately in his last two starts - stopping 35 of 37 shots in a 2-1 overtime loss at Columbus, and picking up his first win of the season, stopping 29 of 30 shots against the Coyotes last Saturday.

The Jets had a mandatory day off from practice after a 4-1 win over the Coyotes on Tuesday. Despite a start of 0-2-0, the Jets have come back to be one of the top contenders in the West and are currently 7-1-3 in their last 11 games.

Puck drop is 8 p.m. on the east coast and can be viewed on the NBC Sports Network or listen live on 97.5 The Fanatic.

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