Simmonds Quietly Having Another Fantastic Season With Philadelphia
Everyone's focus has been on the level of play brought to the ice by Jakub Voracek and Claude Giroux.
Both are the top two point-getters for the Flyers, and both have garnered a lot of attention for their speed, goal scoring and prolific passing. Their 25 and and 22 points respectively along with Scott Hartnell's play have made them one of the most dangerous top lines in the NHL.
Not lost in the mix of scoring has been second line winger Wayne Simmonds, who shares time with Voracek and Giroux on the top power play unit.
Simmonds has nine goals on the season, tied with Voracek for the team lead. He is fourth in points with 17.
Simmonds, along with Voracek, scored in the Flyers 2-1 win against the Senators Saturday afternoon. Simmonds' goal was considered the game-winner, and it was his third in the last four games.
As Brayden Schenn came across the blue line, Simmonds got behind Senators defenseman Patrick Wiercioch and received a direct pass from Schenn. He skated in alone on Bishop, dropped his shoulder, deked and put a back-hander through the legs of Bishop, putting the Flyers up 2-0.
"Wayne's had a terrific start to the season," head coach Peter Laviolette said after the game. "He does a lot for our team and that was a nice goal he got today. Typically his goals are 1 or 2 guys draped around him hang onto him in the crease and he's trying to somehow bang them in but that was a goal scorers goal tonight and it was pretty."
Simmonds' goal enabled the Flyers to give themselves a little bit of distance on Ottawa. Their goaltender, Ben Bishop, was having another fantastic game (39 saves) and he kept the Senators in the game the entire time.
Scoring timely goals hasn't been the only spark Simmonds has provided for his team. He's been in four fights, throws his body around and wins puck battles along the boards.
Boasting a wiry 6'2", 183 pound frame, Simmonds uses his leverage and strong skating ability to hold onto the puck. He has long arms and legs and it has made his game that much more important to the Flyers, especially playing on a line with Schenn and Danny Briere.
His ability to provide a spark showed itself last Saturday, February 23 in the Flyers 5-3 of the Jets. Trailing in shots 12-1 to start the game, Simmonds fought Jets forward Chris Thorburn, setting the tone for the Flyers in the rest of the period.
"That always gets guys going," said Schenn after that game on February 23. "It seems after that guys get their legs underneath them, were more physical and got more involved in the game. Little things like that can change hockey games."
Simmonds also scored the game-winning goal in that game, finding the net on the power play with 11:03 left in the third period and the game tied, 3-3.
Scoring game-winning goals, especially in a low-scoring game like today's game, has to feel good for Simmonds. It was a huge test for them, Simmonds said.
“I think those are the games we have to get comfortable with, obviously," Simmonds said. "Especially trying to make a playoff push and all. I think a lot of games going down to the back half of the season are going to be like that. So, obviously we need to get comfortable in games like that. We’ve been fighting to get to .500 for a long time and we can’t stop now. We just have to keep going ahead.”