Wayne Simmonds has endured quite a bit in 2017-18.
Not that anything ever comes easy for him.
Simmonds has grinded out NHL success, featuring back-to-back 30-plus-goal outputs the previous two seasons and a 2017 All-Star Game MVP honor.
This season has been a different grind.
The 29-year-old power forward had his mouth busted twice by an opponent's errant stick, the first instance of which required some serious dental work. He then missed seven games from Feb. 20 to March 4 because of an upper-body injury. And now, when the stakes are at its highest, he's working to rediscover what makes him so important to the Flyers.
All while playing banged up, more than likely. In fact, Simmonds has battled his health all season, going back to October when he missed a practice from time to time.
"Simmer's a playoff warrior," Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said Monday. "That's a mentality that he carries day in and day out. He's an important guy for us and I've got a sense that he'll impact this series."
The challenge is trying to do so in some uncharted waters. After averaging 18:20 of ice time through his first 69 games, Simmonds played 15:12 over the final six regular-season contests, posting a goal and an assist. Moreover, a net-front power-play presence that felt sacrosanct, was changed. Simmonds gave way to 19-year-old Nolan Patrick, sliding down to the second-unit man advantage.
Simmonds, the team-first guy that he is, has taken it in stride.
"Oh no, it's fine," Simmonds said April 5. "I wasn't playing well and I've got to do better. I've got to be a better player. Patty's done a great job in front of the net when he's been in front of the net this year. … I feel no way about it, the kid's a great player. He deserves everything he's getting."
Simmonds played a season-low 12:38 in Sunday's Game 3 loss, in large part because the Flyers' penalty kill spent so much time on the ice thanks to eight penalties.
"Simmer was one of the guys we lost because of the number of specialty teams, and all of a sudden his impact on the game becomes minimal," Hakstol said. "He's a key guy and we've got to find the right avenue for him to impact this series. That's something that as a coach I've got to do a better job of. When you have a night like you had [Sunday] when we took six minor penalties over a 30-minute span, it's really hard to utilize a lot of players."
Hakstol understands the importance of utilizing Simmonds in better ways. After all, he's the emotional engine of the Flyers, who went 17-3-1 during the regular season when Simmonds scored a goal.
Thus far, he has one assist through three games of the best-of-seven first-round playoff matchup with the Penguins, while scoring one goal in his last 12 games, postseason included.
Simmonds will continue to grind as the series moves to Game 4 Wednesday night at the Wells Fargo Center (7 p.m./NBCSP). The Flyers, trailing 2-1, hope it's the kind of grind that produces the vintage Wayne Simmonds.