Where Are You, Wayne?
Wayne Simmonds, Flyers fans turn their lonely eyes to you.
But first, they have to find you.
The fighting, grinding, forechecking Simmonds was fantastic early on in Philadelphia. In his first seven games, he notched five points. He brought a physicality that was needed. He dug at pucks in the crease. He illustrated the art of screening the opposing goaltender.
In his next six games, he had a grand total of zero points. There was a small injury that slowed him down in that time. Still, going for the goose egg on the score sheet in six consecutive games seems a bit troubling.
He roared back with three points in four games. Now, he sits at zero points in his last six. Where's he been? What's he been doing? His production is down, but that doesn't discount what he does for the Flyers.
Simmonds continues to fight, grind, and forecheck. His physicality continues to help the team. But, for the Flyers to be successful in the long run, he needs to contribute to the score sheet.
Much has been made of Philadelphia's injury situation and the constant line shuffling that is a direct result. Perhaps Simmonds has been a victim of the shuffle. Also, the Flyers power play has scored on just four of their last 25 attempts, and that probably affects Simmonds’ lack of production as well.
No one expected the young forward to hit 30 goals on the season when he was acquired in the infamous Mike Richards trade. The excitement at seeing him pound players into the ice after dropping the gloves has been evident. His crease presence has led to high praise. Simmonds is a Flyer in every sense of the word.
That's why the team needs him to step up. Friday, he'll have a chance to get back in the point column against his old foes, the Anaheim Ducks. It's also his first trip to the west coast since being traded.
With one of the best offenses in the league, Simmonds’ scoring touch isn’t absolutely necessary. However, when things grind down to the end of the season and time and space on the ice is taken away, the grinder has to be in the fold.
When Mike Knuble left Philadelphia for Washington, many clamored for a guy who would score dirty goals. When Scott Hartnell had problems finding the back of the net, they clamored some more. Simmonds is the power forward who brings what the fans have wanted to see.
Although he certainly fits that mold, he also suffers because of it. It’s unlikely that he’ll find the back of the net on his own. He needs to be fed, needs to be in traffic, needs to see rebounds sitting in front of opposing goalies.
With his disappearing production staring the Flyers directly in the face, he and his linemates need to pick up the pieces and get going.
If for no other reason than to remind everyone what he’s capable of doing on the ice.
With a six-game scoreless slump, it can be easy to forget.