Flyers

Wayne Simmonds played with more injuries than he can remember

Wayne Simmonds played with more injuries than he can remember

VOORHEES, N.J. — There were so many, Wayne Simmonds even lost track.

"I actually forgot about that one," he said with a laugh.

The Flyers' power forward was referring to the torn ligament in his thumb, the lone injury to declare victory with Simmonds this season.

And don't think he didn't have his battles.

As Simmonds sat down at his end-of-the-season press conference Wednesday, the list of injuries could have unrolled from his chair and out the door.

With some picking and prodding, one by one he ran them off.

In total?

A tear in his pelvic area, fractured ankle, pulled groin, busted mouth (twice) and the torn ligament in his thumb.

Simmonds missed only seven games in 2017-18, with the thumb finally dragging the unbreakable man off the ice.

Call him crazy, call him naïve, but don't question his dedication or toughness.

"I think for me, I don't know if it's the right thing, but I can't not play," Simmonds said. "It's just geared in my head to where if I'm not dead or I'm not deathly sick, I'm going to try and get out there and do whatever I can. Whether the coach is going to play me, or whatever minutes he wanted to play me, that was up to him. I'm definitely going to sacrifice my body for the team, that's for sure."

The trigger to the mess came well before his season-opening hat trick. Simmonds' pelvic tear was diagnosed in training camp, an injury he believes was suffered prior to report day.

"But I had no idea," Simmonds said. "You start doing all the skate testing and everything like that, and you find out pretty quickly."

The 29-year-old, coming off back-to-back 30-plus-goal seasons, was then faced with a dilemma. Surgery to repair the tear was an option, but that meant missing a month to a month and a half of action.

"It wasn't something I wanted to do," Simmonds said. "I thought I'd be able to play through it and do a decently good job. I didn't play up to my expectations this year. It was a very frustrating year. Things didn't go the way I wanted but if I can play, I'm going to play."

The decision boiled down to something pretty simple.

"They showed me the MRI and I was like, 'Can I play?'" Simmonds said. "Yeah, I can play."

The problem was the injury brought side effects.

"Having that, that leaves other things," Simmonds said. "Your body is overcompensating and other stuff starts breaking down. It wasn't good."

Because of it, Simmonds said he then pulled his groin in October before fracturing his ankle not long after following a power-play shot to the foot.

"It kind of just broke," Simmonds said. "It wasn't a weight-bearing bone, so you're still able to play with that."

However, he wasn't able to play from Feb. 20 to March 4. He also underwent serious dental work in February.

In all, it sounded like hell.

"When everything's piling on top of one another, it sucks," he said.

Simmonds finished the regular season with 24 goals, 22 assists and a minus-16 rating in 75 games. During the first-round playoff exit to the Penguins, he had two assists in six games.

He seldom looked like himself.

"That was the biggest thing. It didn't allow me to have the power I usually have," Simmonds said. "It was extremely frustrating. Obviously you want to be able to do something and you're able to do it usually, and then your brain is telling your body to do it and your body's not doing it."

Simmonds, who said surgery on his pelvis is likely, now faces an offseason in which he's eligible for an extension starting July 1 ahead of his 2018-19 contract year.

"I know this year wasn't ideal for me and they probably didn't see from me what was required for an extension," Simmonds said. "This is definitely where I want to be.

"This is where I want to be for the rest of my career."

Banged up or not.

Bruins 4, Flyers 3 (preseason): Flyers fall in worst preseason performance

Bruins 4, Flyers 3 (preseason): Flyers fall in worst preseason performance

BOX SCORE

The Flyers simply couldn’t handle the B’s B-team.

Playing without most of their regulars, the Bruins handled the Flyers' comeback, winning 4-3, dropping the Flyers' preseason record to 3-2-1.

Here are my observations from the Wells Fargo Center: 

1. The Flyers came to life in the second period, outshooting the Bruins 18-9. However, overall, this was by far their worst game of the preseason. Boston rested a lot of its regulars following an exhibition series with the Calgary Flames in China. All of their key players stayed back home, which made this performance that much more disheartening. We should see something closer to the actual Bruins next Saturday in Boston.

2. Defenseman Andrew MacDonald had to work on some first-period rust. On his second shift of the game, MacDonald turned the puck over horribly in his own zone, which was one gaffe. In the same sequence, MacDonald kicked the puck away from Brian Elliott, who was about to cover up. That sequence eventually led to Peter Cehlarik’s goal. MacDonald looked better as the game wore on. 

3. Should Flyers fans have any concern about Elliott? A little bit as he still appears to be working out the kinks. While the first goal was a series of breakdowns and a failure to clear the zone, the Bruins' second goal — a Brandon Carlo snapshot — was one Elliott has to stop despite James van Riemsdyk  venturing too far down defensively to stop the pass and block the shot. Elliott also faced a couple of shorthanded breakaways. He turned aside Jordan Szwarz coming down the left wing, but was beaten later in the second period by Chris Wagner.  

4. I think this was a big game in determining Nicolas Aube-Kubel’s future with the team. Having played on a line with skilled players Claude Giroux and Jordan Weal previously, Aube-Kubel was working with Jori Lehtera and Dale Weise. In the first period, Aube-Kubel appeared gun shy and passed up on a really good scoring chance from the left circle. He instead elected to pass to Phil Myers at his right defense position.

5. Jake Voracek took a nasty hit from Bruins defenseman Steven Kampfer as he nailed Voracek up high right in front of the Flyers' bench. Kampfer was given two minutes for roughing. Voracek was fortunate he wasn’t nailed into the boards, where there was a panel of glass or the impact may have led to injury.

6. I don’t think Myers has had the outstanding camp, like Travis Sanheim a year ago, that would have guaranteed his place on the roster. In fact, Myers may have regressed a little bit in Week 2. Myers blindly backhanded a pass straight into the slot, which led to Lee Stempniak’s slap shot and the Bruins' fourth goal of the game.  

7. Michael Raffl gave the Flyers one of his best efforts of the preseason. Raffl was noticeable for most of the game as he was quick to pucks and strong along the boards. Raffl forced the neutral zone turnover that led to Dale Weise’s 2-on-1 shorthanded goal. From that moment, the Flyers scored three goals in a 2:44 third-period span.  

Lines and pairings

Forwards
Giroux-Mikhail Vorobyev-Travis Konecny
van Riemsdyk-Nolan Patrick-Voracek
Aube-Kubel-Lehtera-Weise
Scott Laughton-Corban Knight-Raffl

Defensemen
Ivan Provorov-Shayne Gostisbehere 
MacDonald-Christian Folin 
Robert Hagg-Myers

Goaltenders
Elliott
Anthony Stolarz

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Flyers' dynamic top 6 draws national praise

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AP Images

Flyers' dynamic top 6 draws national praise

If there appears to be a genuine buzz around the Flyers this season that hasn't been here in a few years now — and not about that weird orange thing they unveiled today — you're not exactly wrong.

This is the first season in the Ron Hextall era that the Flyers enter coming off reeling in a big fish via free agency, even if it wasn't John Tavares.

Yes, James van Riemsdyk is a big fish. He's a 30-goal scorer and was the second-best free agent available behind Tavares. It was a huge get, and it's a better fit this time around.

It's not just Philly that believes JVR's addition instantly upgrades the Flyers in 2018-19. TSN's Travis Yost on Monday graded out all 31 NHL teams' top sixes and he reaped praise for the orange and black.

Philadelphia is another notable standout. The Flyers’ offense should be nothing short of ridiculous this season — they are returning three forwards in Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek and Sean Couturier who all finished in the top 30 in scoring last season. Add another year of playing experience for youngsters Travis Konecny and Nolan Patrick, plus a 36-goal guy in James van Riemsdyk, and you have attacking options flooding the lineup.

What's interesting about Yost's analysis is that he didn't even include Wayne Simmonds in the group. Even with a hefty list of injuries, Simmonds scored 24 goals and 46 points last season when it was clear that he wasn't himself.

A healthy Simmonds is a 30-goal scorer, and while he hasn't played in the preseason yet, he should be 100 percent by the season opener Oct. 4 in Vegas.

The Flyers will have seven legitimate top-six forwards this season, which means the third line will have a top-six player on it. That's depth this team hasn't had since … van Riemsdyk was with the Flyers in 2011-12.

If we go back to the 2011-12 season, the Flyers had Giroux, Simmonds, Voracek, Couturier, Jaromir Jagr, Danny Briere and Brayden Schenn. That was a pretty solid group of forwards. That team just lacked a defensive group that could actually skate.

Fast forward to this season, the Flyers' defensive group is younger, a bit faster and, quite frankly, a lot better. A healthy Brian Elliott and the Flyers should be fine.

What we should take away from Yost's column is that the Flyers have caught the eye of national pundits, and that's a good thing. The season starts in 10 days.

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