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TAMING THE WILD

SIMMONDS HAS A BIG NIGHT AS FLYERS ENTER BREAK IN PLAYOFF SPOT

Tuesday, 12.24.2013 / 12:02 AM ET / News
By Anthony SanFilippo  - Philadelphia Flyers Inside Reporter
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TAMING THE WILD

PHILADELPHIA – When Craig Berube decided to tweak his lineup six games ago as far as line combinations, there were some eyebrows raised when he decided to put Brayden Schenn, Scott Hartnell and Wayne Simmonds together.

Conventional wisdom would have suggested it was a unit that was doomed for frustration. Three players, all who play a similar style, none of which have blazing speed, plugging along as a line full of power forwards.

It’s kind of like trying to text with your toes.

But conventional wisdom has taken a back seat for now with this unit, as the trio have found a way to make a difference in hockey games.

Wayne Simmonds acknowledges the crowd after being named first star against the Wild with a three-point effort.

Especially Simmonds. There’s been no slowing the Wayne Train, as he is called by many fans on social media, in the past few games.

Simmonds scored twice and added an assist, registering his first three-point game since a four point night in Carolina last April 20, leading the Flyers to a convincing 4-1 win over the Minnesota Wild in their final game on home ice in calendar year 2013.

Simmonds now has five goals and two assists for seven points in the past four games for the Flyers, coming on the heels of a 10-game drought in which he was only able to muster three assists.

“I think it’s worked great,” Simmonds said of his new line. “We all do the same thing, we play north-south, we get bodies in, we grind on the other teams defense, and we get the pucks to the point and we crash the net. I think that’s a good recipe and so far it’s been working.”

Has it ever.

For a team that has struggled to find much offense all season – the Flyers entered play Monday ranked 24th in the NHL in goals – they have been able to post three or more goals in seven of the last 10 games and more specifically have done it five games in a row now, totaling 21 goals in that span.

“I thought they were real good because all three of them worked hard together,” Berube said. “In order for that line to be successful they all need to work and play a power game. I thought they did that tonight.”

Most noticeable was Scott Hartnell, who only registered one point – an assist on the game’s first goal by defenseman Luke Schenn that marked the 500th point of his career, but each of his 19 shifts seemed to have a determined Hartnell outworking Wild players around every turn.

“We’ve obviously changed some things up,” Hartnell said. “I think it took a little while to learn how to play the right way and I know no one doesn’t want to let anyone down in here; turning the puck over, making soft plays and you’re accountable to your teammates, the guy next to you in the dressing room; you play hard, you play smarter.”

And the Flyers have been a much smarter team, especially at Wells Fargo center where they’ve won nine straight games for the first time since October-November 2005.

Against the Wild it was about as precise a performance as there could be. The Flyers clamped down defensively, making goalie Steve Mason have a relatively easy night in goal. He made 26 saves, but only a few of them were tough.

They still took too many penalties – giving the Wild five power play chances, but they only allowed one shot on goal in those five power plays – and it was the lone Minnesota goal during a 5-on-3 opportunity.

The team is playing well,” said Claude Giroux, who had a goal and an assist, stretching his career-best point streak to seven games. “We’ve got the four lines going and everyone’s playing great. I think when you have a team effort like tonight, it’s a really good feeling. So we can take it in for a couple days for Christmas and be ready to go on the road.”

And the Flyers head into the holiday break, and the looming six-game road trip, holding onto sole possession of a playoff position as they sit third in the Metropolitan Division with 38 points (17-16-4).

“We got to take this show on the road,” Hartnell said. “You can’t be homers and expect to make the playoffs and take the next step, so we got to take what we do here at home and put it on the road.”

To contact Anthony SanFilippo, email asanfilippo@comcast-spectacor.com or follow him on Twitter @InsideTheFlyers

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 51 38 9 4 166 114 80
2 FLA 53 31 16 6 143 118 68
3 NYR 53 30 18 5 150 135 65
4 TBL 52 29 19 4 138 123 62
5 BOS 52 28 18 6 151 137 62
6 DET 53 27 18 8 133 131 62
7 PIT 52 27 18 7 138 132 61
8 NYI 51 27 18 6 143 127 60
9 NJD 54 26 21 7 120 122 59
10 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
11 MTL 54 26 24 4 143 143 56
12 OTT 54 25 23 6 153 166 56
13 PHI 51 23 19 9 121 133 55
14 BUF 53 21 26 6 120 139 48
15 TOR 51 19 23 9 117 140 47
16 CBJ 54 21 28 5 135 168 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
C. Giroux 51 16 28 -6 44
J. Voracek 51 8 34 -1 42
W. Simmonds 51 18 16 -6 34
B. Schenn 49 14 15 -1 29
S. Gostisbehere 33 9 18 4 27
S. Couturier 40 9 15 9 24
M. Read 50 9 9 -5 18
S. Laughton 51 4 10 -6 14
M. Del Zotto 49 4 9 -9 13
M. Raffl 51 6 6 2 12
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Mason 12 13 7 .916 2.69
M. Neuvirth 11 6 2 .933 2.14
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