Better With Popcorn

Simmonds' Hard Work Pays Off

It’s not hard to see.

Even the most casual of fans can tell you that Wayne Simmonds is the classic example of the kind of athlete that Philadelphia fans love to call their own.

Hardworking, physical and largely underappreciated away from Philly, Simmonds is the kind player that doesn’t always come to the forefront of your mind when discussing skills, but is always number one when you talk about heart.

However, that doesn’t mean that Simmonds doesn’t have skills.

Although it may not be his forte, it’s ill advised to underestimate the 23-year old’s ability to contribute to the offensive phase of the game.

This was made evident on Thursday night when the gritty forward scored two goals against the Nashville Predators.

He opened the scoring in the first period to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead. The scoring play was the result of his gritty nature as he picked up a loose puck along the boards and drove to the slot with Ryan Suter on his back.

Left with few options, Simmonds spun and threw the puck on net. With a little help from a Zac Rinaldo screen, the puck fluttered into the twine.

The play on it’s own was impressive enough, but it also needs to be noted that Simmonds battled off Suter, one of the league’s most highly-touted defenders, in a one-on-one battle.

Later, after the Predators pulled within one with over ten minutes to play in the final period, it was Simmonds who struck again for the Flyers.

With the team on a power play, Claude Giroux attempted a slap shot from the top of the left faceoff circle. After the shot was turned away, Simmonds put it back on goal and put the game out of reach.

The play was made possible because Simmonds was able to establish a presence in front of the goal, an ability that has made him a vital member of the team’s power play.

“He’s a workhorse,” Matt Read said. “He had two good goals tonight being in the right spots, winning puck battles in front of the net.  He’s been a great player so far and hopefully he can continue and build off his success.”

At this point, Simmonds has 29 points (15-14), has already passed his total of 14 goals from last season and is only one goal away from tying his career high of 16.

“Right now he's a very difficult person to get the puck from,” Peter Laviolette said of Simmonds after Thursday night’s game. “I think he's got a lot of confidence. He's playing extremely well for us right now.”

In his last five games he has six points (3-3), which includes two separate multi-point games. In a broader scope, he has 12 points in his last thirteen and has scored five goals in his last nine.

Everyone understands Simmonds is a hard worker. He is best suited playing the tough minutes because he genuinely enjoys that side of the game.

However, it is still rewarding to have his hard work pay off in the form of production. While Philadelphians will proudly boast off his skill-set, others around the league aren’t as quick to salivate over a loop filled with strong hockey plays.

Ultimately, big hits and goals draw the attention of the masses.

While he may not always command that kind of attention, it won’t stop Simmonds from doing what he does best.

No matter how many points he ends up with this season, he will continue to try to grow and develop into the best player he can.

“I've just been trying to work hard and pick up little things,” he said on Thursday. “I watch Hartsy a lot and a lot of guys I played with in the past and I just try to learn."


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