Better With Popcorn

Wayne Simmonds: The Kind of Guy Philly Loves

Hardworking, tough and resilient, Wayne Simmonds embodies the kind of ‘bring your lunch to work’ player that has historically won over the respect of the Flyers faithful.

All season, he has demonstrated that he is a versatile player capable of being physically imposing as well as quick on his feet.

In the team’s 4-1 win over the New Jersey Devils on Saturday afternoon, Simmonds continued to display the versatile range of his skill set.

On the team’s first goal, Simmonds corralled a New Jersey turnover in the offensive zone and sent a beautiful pass to Matt Read who gave the team the lead in the second period.

Not only was it impressive because of his awareness on the turnover, but also because of his ability to recognize Read attacking the net. Without a clean pass from Simmonds, the bang-bang play had no chance.

Less than four minutes later the team added another goal to their total when Simmonds joined the team’s two highest scorers, Scott Hartnell and Claude Giroux on the power play.

Simmonds began the play down low and then rotated towards the net and established a screen in front of Martin Brodeur. With Brodeur’s vision obstructed Kimmo Timmonen took a shot from the point, which Hartnell deflected.

The Devils goalie never saw the shot coming.

The team’s third goal also came on the power play and began with Simmonds quarterbacking the play from below the red line.

With two assists to his name, Simmonds topped off the afternoon with an empty net goal. It is his first career three-point game.

While his statistics clearly display how strong he played, they still don’t do justice to how complete of a performance he put together.

He and his partners on the third line, Read and Sean Couturier, consistently looked like the best players on the ice. To speak in a broader scope, they have looked like the best players on the ice in several games now.

While the two rookies (both of whom were named to the All-Star team) get a lot of praise because of the amount of production they bring to the table, Simmonds largely goes unnoticed.

Simmonds excels at the kind of work that statistics don’t gauge.

He’s that guy that goes in the corner and grinds out the puck so that guys like Giroux, Couturier or Read can have an open shot in the slot.

When one of the opponents is getting a little too familiar with a member of the Flyers, Simmonds is the first guy to put him in his place.

Most importantly, he is probably the team’s strongest player in front of the opposing team’s net. In this week alone, Simmonds has set screens on two plays that directly facilitated Flyer goals.

Even with all of that being said, Simmonds is still on track to set career highs in each statistical category. Not to mention that he has six points in his last five games.

Whether he’s setting up a teammate or roughing up an opponent, Simmonds has displayed his willingness to do whatever it takes to win.

Now that he’s found a spot on a hot line, Simmonds statistics may become as evident as his toughness.

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