Wayne Simmonds on 2016-17 season: 'I think I've become more of a leader'

Wayne Simmonds on 2016-17 season: 'I think I've become more of a leader'

As Wayne Simmonds sat at the podium Tuesday afternoon for his presser with the media, it had the appearance of one of his CURE Auto commercials.

Except this was the Flyers' breakup day. And it was real, not a TV spot.

Simmonds spoke about how his role changed this year, becoming the bad cop to captain Claude Giroux's good cop in the locker room.

"I think I've become more of a leader, myself," Simmonds said. "Claude's our captain, but I'm here to help him. We're here to help our younger guys and get this thing going in the right direction and not only get into the playoffs.

"I think he's getting better and he's being a leader. I think I'd probably be the bad cop for the most part. G's the nice guy; I'm the man that's yelling. I'm probably more all over guys for some things."

While both Simmonds and Giroux progressed on the leadership side of things, the team struggled as a whole despite the duo trying to lead by example on the ice.

"I think that's our job," Simmonds said. "Everybody's got to be pulled into the battle. I think I'm the guy who can do that. Go out and try to give your max effort and hope everyone follows. 

"We were a little too inconsistent this year and we've got to get that figured out. We're a good team, we've got to make a push and get more consistency. Everyone's got to be on the same page and we've just got to be better."

Simmonds was one of 11 players who met with the media during breakup day in which the players clean out their lockers, take an end-of-season physical and meet with coach Dave Hakstol and general manager Ron Hextall.

At the height of their 10-game winning streak in December, the Flyers were second in the NHL in 5-on-5 offense. They finished the season 27th in that department with just 128 goals scored (2.58). Defensively, they finished 18th, allowing 154 goals against (2.82).

The dramatic drop offensively in goals for is inexplicable, as is the fact the entire team pretty much collapsed offensively in the second half simultaneously.

"The well went dry," Simmonds said. "I don't know how to explain it. I felt like we were getting opportunities, good scoring chances in good areas and we just couldn't put the puck in the net. Eventually, that was our downfall.

"We couldn't score for that little bit of time and the streak was prolonged. I think towards the end of the year we started getting it back, we started putting more pucks in the back of the net, and I think that's more indicative of our team. We started getting more contributions from other guys and we picked it up but it was too late."

A number of players -- Steve Mason, Michal Neuvirth, Sean Couturier, Shayne Gostisbehere, Claude Giroux -- said they played ill or injured over long stretches because it's the mantra for this sport. They didn't want to let teammates down.

Couturier missed 16 games with a left knee injury and admitted he still wasn't healthy when he returned.

"When I came back, I wasn't probably 100 percent," he said. "I thought I could do enough to help the team win, whether it was defensively, offensively, whatever -- it was frustrating at times and took a few weeks to really start not feeling it anymore, and getting it out of my head."

Whether multiple guys playing hurt is beneficial to the team is a tough question to answer.

"I don't know if it did more harm than good," Simmonds said. "What are you going to do? You're not going to play and let the boys down? You know a hockey player's mentality.

"We're going to play unless we're dead. No matter what, you're banged up, you're injured, you better get out there. You do it for the boys, you do it for yourself, for the organization. You've got to play.

"G's a great player. This year I don't know what it was. I think his hip, I don't know what it was. Maybe there was something there. Maybe he wasn't 100 percent, but he's a warrior.

"He's going to battle for the guys, he's our captain, he's our leader. He's not going to leave us to hang no matter how he feels. He's going to show up and he's going to put his best effort forth no matter what."

Giroux and Simmonds, among others, want to play in the IIHF World Championships in France and Germany this spring. Hextall is the GM for Team Canada while Hakstol is one of his assistant coaches.

"Ideally, I would hope to be playing in the playoffs [right now]," Simmonds said. "It's something that I'm thinking about, going over there and having a good time and playing for a winning team. It's a thought, definitely."

Flyers stunned by their effort in bad loss at bad time

Flyers stunned by their effort in bad loss at bad time


DETROIT — The Flyers brought a cold engine to the Motor City and it took a good 40 minutes to finally get it started.

Sure, Dave Hakstol’s team rallied back from a two-goal deficit Tuesday to earn a point at a time when every point is critical, but losing a 5-4 shootout to a fragile Detroit team is unacceptable and unexplainable (see observations).

“Maybe we thought it was going to be an easy game,” Sean Couturier said. “We didn’t play the right way. We didn’t play hard. We wasted 40 minutes. We came back and got a big point, but we can’t be wasting time at this time of the year.”

On a night when the Flyers could have officially eliminated the Red Wings from postseason contention, they turned back the clock and made this Detroit team look more like the juggernaut that won back-to-back Stanley Cup championships 20 years ago. 

At least through the first two periods.

“The second period was god-awful,” defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere said. “We really didn’t help our cause out. We weren’t pushing plays and we just weren’t battling out there. You saw in the third what we could do when we light a fire under our ass. It’s tough like that when you dig yourself a hole and you come back, you expend a lot of energy. The positive we can take is that we got a point out of it.”

You may have never known this was the same Red Wings team that, like the Flyers in the first half of the season, had dropped 10 straight with an 0-9-1 record. Detroit had been outscored a whopping 41-19 from Feb. 28-March 18.

The Red Wings had also returned from a four-game Western Conference road trip less than 48 hours prior to the opening faceoff.

With eight games remaining on the Flyers' schedule, Hakstol is also mired in a goaltending dilemma. Petr Mrazek was rescued from Detroit to be the savior in Philadelphia following injuries to Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth. 

After winning his first three starts, Mrazek’s numbers reek of mediocrity: a 2-5-1 record, 3.72 GAA and an .860 save percentage. Most recently, he’s been pulled in favor of Alex Lyon in two of his last three games.

“The second one is a bad-angle goal,” Hakstol said. “Obviously, he wants that one back, but we gave up a number of opportunities that he was very strong on.”

Mrazek was pulled from the game at 3-1, and before heading to the locker room, he expressed his disappointment with the coaching staff over a non-goaltender interference call during the Red Wings' third goal.

“I talked to Coach and I was just wondering about the goalie interference because someone had bumped in there during the shot,” Mrazek said. “It wasn’t anything like I was mad or something that I got pulled. I was just asking him if there was a goalie interference or not.”

The Flyers' shootout loss coupled with the Blue Jackets' ninth straight victory now drops the orange and black into wild-card territory (see standings).

If this is indeed a playoff team, it needs to repair what’s under the hood and fix it fast.

Panthers rout Senators after death of Karlsson's son

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Panthers rout Senators after death of Karlsson's son

OTTAWA, Ontario -- Jared McCann had a goal and two assists to lead the Florida Panthers over the Senators 7-2 on Tuesday night as Ottawa captain Erik Karlsson sat out following the death of his son.

The team announced the death of Karlsson's son before the game. Erik and Melinda Karlsson were married last year and announced in November they were expecting their first child in the spring. The team released a statement offering its "collective thoughts and prayers" and requested privacy for the family.

Keith Yandle, Nick Bjugstad, Evgeni Dadonov, Jamie McGinn and Frank Vatrano each had a goal and an assist for Florida. Colton Sceviour had the other goal while James Reimer made 33 saves.

Patrick Sieloff and Marian Gaborik scored for the Senators, who lost their second straight. Craig Anderson started in goal but was replaced by Mike Condon after allowing four goals on 17 shots. Condon made 19 saves (see full recap).

Blue Jackets extend win streak to 9
NEW YORK -- Artemi Panarin had three goals and an assist, Sergei Bobrovsky made 29 saves and the Columbus Blue Jackets extended their winning streak to nine games with a 5-3 victory over the New York Rangers on Tuesday night.

Markus Nutivaara and Alexander Wennberg also scored for the Blue Jackets, who have surged into a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. It is Columbus' longest winning streak since its 16-game run last season from Nov. 29, 2016, to Jan. 3, 2017.

Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad scored power-play goals and Kevin Hayes had a short-handed goal for the Rangers.

Henrik Lundqvist made 26 saves in his first start since March 10 against Florida. Lundqvist was briefly shaken up when Matt Calvert upended him and knocked his helmet off with five minutes remaining.

With Columbus leading 3-2 in the third period, Lundqvist made a nice save as Cam Atkinson drove toward the net, but Panarin poked the puck free and in for his 24th goal at 11:19.

Kreider scored his 14th with 1:52 remaining to get the Rangers to 4-3.

Panarin added an empty-netter for the hat trick and his 25th of the season (see full recap).

Islanders jump all over Pens to snap skid
NEW YORK -- Mathew Barzal and Adam Pelech scored in the first period and the New York Islanders went on to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-1 on Tuesday night.

Anders Lee had a goal in the third period and Jordan Eberle added an empty-netter to help the Islanders snap a three-game skid with just their second win in 13 games (2-7-4).

Christopher Gibson, pulled in his last start after giving up five goals on 12 shots against Washington last Thursday, stopped 36 shots and has both wins for New York in its recent stretch.

Conor Sheary scored for Pittsburgh, which was 5-1-1 in its previous seven but fell four points behind first-place Washington in the tight Metropolitan Division. Columbus pulled into a tie with the Penguins for second at 87 points -- Pittsburgh holds the tiebreaker over the Blue Jackets.

Matt Murray, returning after missing nine games due to a concussion, finished with 36 saves for the Penguins (see full recap).