For the Philadelphia Flyers and their fans, much of the 2011-12 season will be focused on the New York Rangers. Because of this year’s Winter Classic matchup, players and fans should expect to be inundated with questions, information and banter about the hatred between the Broad Street Bullies and the Broadway Blueshirts.
However, there is still one rivalry that has been overshadowed thus far. That rivalry includes the team on the other side of the Keystone State, the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Wayne Simmonds came to Philadelphia in the offseason with a fresh start and an expanded role. He looked like he could be the answer to the team’s problems in front of the net. His size and speed was raved about by every coach, fan, and pundit.
Wayne Simmonds, Flyers fans turn their lonely eyes to you.
But first, they have to find you.
The fighting, grinding, forechecking Simmonds was fantastic early on in Philadelphia. In his first seven games, he notched five points. He brought a physicality that was needed. He dug at pucks in the crease. He illustrated the art of screening the opposing goaltender.
The Winter Classic saw it's first preview of the season with the two teams squaring off at center ring in Madison Square Garden. But it was New York who threw the first punches in their 2-0 shut out win Saturday afternoon.