Simmonds Thrives in Flyers Win
Wayne Simmonds came to Philadelphia in the offseason with a fresh start and an expanded role. He looked like he could be the answer to the team’s problems in front of the net. His size and speed was raved about by every coach, fan, and pundit.
He started strong with five points in seven games. Then, he slumped and failed to register a point in the team’s next six contests. After that, three points in his next four games. He then went cold again, with zero points in the next seven.
His disappearance was easy to shrug away. After all, the 23-year old winger is a grinder in front of the net. The chances on the stick of number 17 aren’t necessarily of his doing.
It would be easy for Simmonds to lay blame at the feet of his fellow linemates or his ice time. Instead, he battles night in, night out.
Coming into the Flyers’ battle with cross-state and Atlantic Division rival Pittsburgh, Simmonds looked to have turned the corner again. He scored in the team’s 4-2 win over Phoenix last Saturday. His presence in front of the net on Matt Read’s goal in Buffalo proved to be pivotal.
In his first taste of action in the Keystone State rivalry, Simmonds continued his strong play. Any test that was in front of him was passed with flying colors.
On the Flyers first goal of the game, he notched an assist. In the second period, he stayed in front of the net and converted on a Jakub Voracek pass to give the Flyers a 2-0 lead. When the final horn sounded, Philadelphia defeated the Penguins, 3-2.
They took first place in the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference, and Simmonds’ performance made it all possible. It also resulted in his first multi-point game of the season.
Simmonds thinks his production (or lack thereof) is about him and him alone.
“I think it’s myself and the things I’m doing,” Simmonds said. “I think I just gotta get in position for them to feed me the puck; just go to the net and cause havoc and I’ll be successful.”
Claude Giroux, who leads the NHL in points this season, was quick to pinpoint Simmonds’ importance to the team.
“Wayne’s been playing well for us, even when he doesn’t make points,” Giroux explained. “He brings that physical play and plays like a power forward; he always has the presence in front of the net.
“We get a lot of goals because he’s in front of the net. Sometimes that little detail doesn’t show in the stat sheet, but as a team we know it’s pretty important what he does”
Giroux wasn’t the only teammate happy to see the tall, lanky number 17 in orange play well.
Maxime Talbot was especially pleased after Simmonds helped him beat his former team.
“Yea for sure I’m happy for him,” he said. “It’s always nice to see guys who work so hard put pucks in the net.”
Many expected fireworks from former Penguins Jaromir Jagr and Talbot in their first game against Pittsburgh as members of the Flyers. Instead, it was Simmonds who made a huge impact in his first taste of one of the NHL’s best rivalries.
The power forward felt right at home once the puck dropped.
“It’s fun obviously you go out there and you battle every shift,” Simmonds said. “And that’s the type of hockey I like to play and most of the guys on our team like to play.”
When asked about the rivalry, he flashed a grin that was as big as his impact in Thursday’s game.
“We’re battlers out there,” he said. “If every game’s going to be like that it’s going to be a good six-game series.”