TRAIN KEEPS A-ROLLIN'
PHILADELPHIA – There’s no question that Claude Giroux is the Flyers MVP. Heck, he’s in the conversation for league MVP.
But if there were an award for second place, it should definitely go to Wayne Simmonds. In a lot of ways, Simmonds has been a pillar of consistency longer than Giroux.
With the exception of a four-game stretch in late January where Simmonds went without a point, he has frequently shown up on the score sheet in this, his breakout season.
He’s been a point-per-game player since that four-game drought (6G, 8A in 14 games) and he is now second in the NHL in power play goals with 13 behind only Alexander Overchkin who has a silly total of 20.
And he’s doing it every which way.
His first goal in Thursday’s win was classic Simmonds. It was a junkyard dog type of goal – getting to the greasy area around the crease and being in the right position to bang home a rebound.
The second one though, was a different element of his game, one that he isn’t often credited with having and yet, proved it brilliantly.
Simmonds, who plays his heart out on every shift, can skate. Not only can he skate, but he can shoot too.
So, with the Flyers kind of chasing their own tail for much of the second and early part of the third period, being kept in the game solely by the efforts of goalie Steve Mason, Simmonds found a stretch of open ice and turned on the jets.
Vinny Lecavalier did a nice job waiting for Simmonds to generate some speed, and then turned into Peyton Manning and led Simmonds with a perfect pass.
Simmonds could have drove the net and tried to score from in close – his office – but instead chose to let one rip from about 25 feet and it surprised Dallas goalie Tim Thomas, beating him to the glove side for Simmonds 23rd goal of the season.
"He’s grown this year as a power forward," said coach Craig Berube. "I think his game has improved on the rush. He’s become a very good rush player. You could see tonight, he takes the puck and shoots it off the rush and scores. To me that’s where his game has really improved this year.”
He now has 52 points this season. He never scored like that as a pro at any level – not even junior hockey.
And he doesn’t seem to be slowing down.
And as a result, neither does the Flyers power play. Since the calendar flipped to 2014 the Flyers power play has been excellent, scoring a goal 24 percent of the time (23-for-96). In those 29 games the Flyers have only gone without a power play tally nine times.
So, at the end of the season, when the team awards are handed out and Giroux wins the Bobby Clarke Trophy as team MVP, just know that Simmonds was second on the ballot, and deservedly so.
NOTES: The Flyers have a record of 30-12-3 when Giroux posts at least one point. He has posted at least one point in the Flyers’ last 14 wins… Mark Streit’s first-period goal was the 30th by a Flyers defenseman this season. The last time the Flyers had 30 goals from defensemen was in 2009-10, when blueliners contributed 32 goals. The Flyers got 38 goals from defensemen in the 2005-06 and 2003-04 seasons…Jamie Benn’s power play goal was the first the Flyers have allowed in five games. It snapped a streak of 19 consecutive penalties killed by the Flyers… The Flyers blocked 24 Dallas shots, which ties with two other games for second-most this season, while the Stars blocked 23 shots. The 47 blocks total between the two teams was the highest total number of blocks in a Flyers game this season…In the 10 games since the Olympic break, the Flyers have scored 16 goals in the first period, an average of 1.6 first period goals per game. Prior to the Olympic break, the Flyers had scored 38 first period goals in 59 games for an average of 0.65 first period goals per game…The Flyers’ two third period goals tonight were their first third-period goals in four games. They previously had at least one third-period goal in 12 consecutive games from Jan. 25 to March 8… The Flyers didn’t allow a shot on goal after Benn’s second goal, blanking Dallas over the final 7:09 of the game.
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