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Simmonds powering Flyers during win streak

Tough, Gritty forward becoming a force on the power-play and in front of the net

Sunday, 03.23.2014 / 10:45 AM / News
By Jay Greenberg  - philadelphiaflyers.com
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Simmonds powering Flyers during win streak
Tough, Gritty forward becoming a force on the power-play and in front of the net

Sorry, can’t give you the skinny on how Wayne Simmonds stands his ground on the world’s skinniest legs.

“I don’t know if they are the world’s skinniest.” he protested. “There probably are some animals with skinnier legs.

“I honest don’t know. I play with determination and try not to get knocked down.”

Must be all in the ankles. Or, in the fortitude, because the man has no calves. Those aren’t legs, but rods interrupted by knees, thighs seeming to be optional in a hockey player, or at least this hockey player. Simmonds is thinner than even a fan’s patience for the home team’s power play, yet in front of the net and along the boards he doesn’t budge.

“At 185 pounds, I don’t know where he gets it from,” said Craig Berube. “Wiry, natural, strength, I guess.

“And mentally he is strong. Wayne has a clear determination for what he wants to do and he battles, really battles.”

That’s half the battle -- being all in for the battle. In fact, right wings who bang -- and provide 20-30 goal bang for the bucks -- have been a proud Flyers standard from Gary Dornhoefer to Paul Holmgren to Rick Tocchet. And the concept of Simmonds as The Next continues to grow legs.

“Like those guys, he has a little bit of everything,” said Berube. “Toughness, grit, ability to put the puck in the net.

“And like I said the other night, he is turning into a better player on the rush.”

On Saturday the Blues, tied 1-1 in the second period, were starting a rush when Simmonds, on the backcheck, started a Flyer rush instead. He knocked down Chris Porter’s pass at center, turned on a dime, and burst outside Barret Jackman to take Brayden Schenn’s give-and-go pass. Schenn put in Simmonds’ rebound and the game was turned.

“It kind of started as a broken play,” said Simmonds.

It was a broken play because he broke it up. And it became a goal because of his acceleration, which is as surprising as was his release off the rush that beat Tim Thomas for a critical insurance goal in Thursday’ night’s win over Dallas.

The bigger they are – the Blues lead the Western Conference in points – the harder they fall these days at Wells Fargo Center as the Flyers knock off the top teams one-by-one by never altering their course.

“We try to play the same way no matter what the score,” said Simmonds, and they are doing it better and better all the time, Simmonds lately leading the way almost as much as is Claude Giroux.

Simmonds’ fifth goal in three contests and some remarkable Steve Mason goaltending and penalty killing got them past the Blues. Next are the Kings, the team that drafted Simmonds, whom he torched for a goal in a February win in Los Angeles.

“Oh sure,” he said, asked if he gets up for the team that won a Stanley Cup after trading him. Simmonds doesn’t seem upset to have missed out because he believes he is going to win one here.

“We are really confident,” he said. “Every night we come to the rink expecting to win; it doesn’t matter who we’re playing.”

Berube says that much like the team, it seems to matter less and less to Simmonds’ what post he just hit or what penalty just went uncalled.

“I think he has challenged his frustration and his game towards the ice more than he used to,” said the coach. “Now everything is directed to the play.

“He has become a good leader. I would say he is our emotional leader. He talks a lot and challenges people the right way, then goes out and does it.”

Simmonds does it on the backcheck, on the forecheck, on the power play where his right-handed shot is stationed at the left post primarily for backdoor passing purposes. Nevertheless, the spindly man has spun for many of the 13 power-play goals of his 24 overall on the season.

“My first year here I did get the 28 goals, but there was one time I went like 17 games without a goal,” he said. “I try to play a more complete game more consistently.

“It’s my sixth year in the league and as you get older the game starts to slow down a little bit. I don’t want to say it gets easier, but I guess it does get a little bit easier.”

At some point, so will the Flyers’ schedule. Not yet, though, with the Kings, Rangers, Leafs and Bruins the next great gale force winds that won’t blow over the lean, mean Wayne Simmonds.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
C. Giroux 82 28 58 7 86
J. Voracek 82 23 39 11 62
W. Simmonds 82 29 31 -4 60
S. Hartnell 78 20 32 11 52
M. Streit 82 10 34 3 44
B. Schenn 82 20 21 0 41
M. Read 75 22 18 -4 40
S. Couturier 82 13 26 1 39
V. Lecavalier 69 20 17 -16 37
K. Timonen 77 6 29 5 35
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Mason 33 18 7 .917 2.50
R. Emery 9 12 2 .903 2.96
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