Flyers

Wayne Simmonds, Jamie Oleksiak drop the gloves for big-time fight in Flyers-Penguins game

Wayne Simmonds, Jamie Oleksiak drop the gloves for big-time fight in Flyers-Penguins game

You have to admire Wayne Simmonds.

That guy is as tough as they get. He's fearless, too, and showed it Saturday night when he dropped the gloves and stood toe to toe with 6-foot-7, 255-pound defenseman Jamie Oleksiak.

The Flyers, desperate for life and fire during a hellish week, had just allowed a goal 39 seconds into their game against the Penguins, to Sidney Crosby no less.

So the Flyers' emotional leader stepped up and grappled with Oleksiak, a big dude who makes the 6-foot-2, 185-pound Simmonds look small.

It was a big-time fight.

Simmonds took some serious shots early but more than held his own as he landed punches, as well, resulting in a bloody fight you can watch in the video above.

The Flyers' new general manager will have a difficult decision on Simmonds, who can become an unrestricted free agent in the offseason (see story). If the Flyers continue to slide and their 2018-19 season looks more and more lost, Simmonds will be a popular trade candidate ahead of the Feb. 25 deadline.

What contending team wouldn't want a heart-and-soul player with 30-goal pedigree on the wing for the stretch run? 

Of course, the Flyers could also decide to re-sign Simmonds. But they certainly don't want to let him walk during the summer and receive nothing in return.

At 30 years old, Simmonds still has a ton of worth. He owns 96 goals since the start of the 2015-16 season, good for 21st in the NHL over that span.

We saw another aspect of his value when he stood up for the Flyers Saturday night (see story).

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Flyers call up Morgan Frost, send Carsen Twarynski to Phantoms

Flyers call up Morgan Frost, send Carsen Twarynski to Phantoms

Updated: 3:22 p.m.

VOORHEES, N.J. — Here comes Morgan Frost.

The Flyers called up the playmaking center Monday from AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley and sent Carsen Twarynski to the Phantoms.

Frost, an exciting 20-year-old prospect who the Flyers selected in the first round of the 2017 draft, had 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in 16 games with Lehigh Valley.

Over his final two OHL seasons with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, Frost put up 221 points (79 goals, 142 assists) and a plus-103 rating in 125 regular-season games.

He is expected to make his NHL debut Tuesday when the Flyers play the Panthers in Florida (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP) and will wear No. 48.

Frost received the news Sunday from Phantoms head coach Scott Gordon.

"To be completely honest with you, I was pretty surprised," Frost said Monday after Flyers practice. "I wasn’t really expecting it, I was just hanging out with [Isaac Ratcliffe] playing video games on an off day. Got that call, I saw Gordo’s name, I thought of a couple things before I answered the call. Answered it and it was a nice surprise.”

The first person he broke the news to was his dad Andy Frost.

"I FaceTimed my dad after," Frost said. "I don’t even know if he’s ever used FaceTime before. I think it was more sufficient that I FaceTimed him instead of called him.

“It was really special.”

Frost will play center, which allows Claude Giroux to play first-line left winger, where he’s had career-best success (see weekly observations). Frost will be between Giroux and Travis Konecny.

"They’re giving me an opportunity here," Frost said. "Playing with two amazing players, so I’m really excited for that.”

How long could Frost be here? His play could dictate that, but Scott Laughton (broken finger) is nearing his return from long-term injured reserve. Laughton could be back as soon as Saturday's game against the Flames.

Nonetheless, Frost is getting his first shot.

 

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Flyers weekly observations: Something to think about with Alain Vigneault's system

Flyers weekly observations: Something to think about with Alain Vigneault's system

The Flyers went to the shootout two more times this week and stomached an 0-1-2 stretch punctuated by Saturday night's brutal collapse against the Islanders.

Twenty games into the 2019-20 season and the Flyers (10-6-4) are a complex group. Despite improvements under a new coaching staff with some new personnel, they are still the tough-to-predict Flyers.

Let's get into that and more with our weekly observations:

• When head coach Alain Vigneault's system is at its apex, all four lines are making an impact. Setting up shop in the offensive zone requires constant effort. The hard-on-the-attack, get-after-it premise can be taxing, so balance through the lineup is vital.

The Flyers haven't had that and their record reflects it. So, too, does their failure to close games. It's very possible they're running out of gas in the final 20 minutes.

The sharing of ice time can also lead to a style not conducive for high-volume individual point production. When everyone is going, the minutes and scoring can spread out.

Through 20 games, the production is down for Claude Giroux (13 points), Jakub Voracek (13), James van Riemsdyk (nine) and Kevin Hayes (seven). The Flyers don't need career years from those four; that probably wasn't going to happen. But the Flyers do need them for better balance or this team will have a difficult time finding consistency in Vigneault's system.

• On top of the way the Flyers want to play, their schedule hasn't been favorable — all of which could be having a negative effect on delivering knockout punches.

After playing in four different countries from Sept. 30 through October, the Flyers are in the midst of playing 16 games during November. They've already played five back-to-back sets out of 17 this season. In the second game of such situations, the Flyers are 1-2-2 and giving up 3.8 goals per game.

The Flyers have gone to the shootout seven times compared to just four times all of last season. Suddenly the start of games isn't an issue but instead finishing them has caused concerns.

Over the Flyers' last six games, they've been outscored 7-1 in the third period. Five of those six games have gone past regulation and at least three didn't have to.

“Not knowing exactly what we had to work with, I believe that we’re a work in progress and I really believe that we have steps forward to make," Vigneault said before Saturday night's game. "We’re not where I want this team to be, we’re not where I know our team wants to be. But we’re in a good place. We’re right there with a lot of good teams battling.”

• It's obvious by his faceoff work that Sean Couturier is still dealing with a shoulder strain.

The 26-year-old is one of the NHL's best in the dot but lost 12 of 13 faceoffs taken over three games this week. Last season, Couturier had 21 games in which he won at least 12 faceoffs.

He's clearly not the same guy in the circle. However, the injury hasn't stopped him from recording 10 points (four goals, six assists) and a plus-6 mark in his last 10 games.

“I feel better and better every day," he said Tuesday. "It’s more of don’t want to get it worse, want to heal it properly, don’t want it to last all year.”

The left-handed Couturier has limited his number of faceoffs and has even tried taking them right-handed.

“It’s something he’s worked on and it’s something that is pain-free for him," Vigneault said. "He does try it now or then. If the centerman gets kicked out, he’ll go in and try to win them on the side that doesn’t hurt. I hope he’s getting close because we need him to take draws.”

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