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.

This time, Flyers didn't crumble in face of adversity and that says a lot

This time, Flyers didn't crumble in face of adversity and that says a lot

Three weeks ago, this would not have happened. In fact, we have hard evidence to back this up. The Flyers were gut-punched by the Islanders on Oct. 27 at the Wells Fargo Center and laid down. The end result was a barbarous 6-1 defeat that created social media angst among fans.

On Saturday afternoon, the Flyers’ will was tested again. But this time, the outcome showed us just how far they’ve come since that depressing October Saturday three weeks ago. If there’s such a thing as a character loss, the Flyers’ 6-5 overtime defeat to the Lightning is the face of it (see observations).

This had the making of a story we’ve written before, one in which the Flyers face adversity on home ice and crumble. The Flyers were behind 5-1 in the third period after Tampa capitalized on a 5-on-3 power play for two goals in 51 seconds. Three weeks ago, that’s game, set, match.

Instead, the Flyers rung off four goals in 6:04 to force OT. It’s the ninth time in league history that a team erased a four-goal deficit in a game’s final 10 minutes.

“We showed some good character,” James van Riemsdyk said. “Any time you can get a point when you’re down four goals in the third period, I’d say that’s a pretty good thing. … 

“You want to have good responses. We had some pretty good process-related stuff as far as carrying the play, but we’re paid here and we’re here to get results, so it’s not good enough.”

van Riemsdyk, in his second game back from a knee injury, was a major part of the Flyers’ comeback. He snapped the team’s 0-for-15 power-play drought in the second period with his first goal of the season and had assists on the goal that began the comeback and completed it.

There is a lot to unpack after Saturday. The loss capped off a five-game homestand that began promising but ended leaving much more to be desired — 2-2-1. The Flyers have now lost three straight, tying their season-high losing streak that came after the Islanders loss on Oct. 27. The penalty kill had another merciless effort, allowing three more power-play goals. The Flyers have now allowed an NHL-worst 22 power-play goals and the PK ranks 30th at 68.6 percent.

Claude Giroux became just the fourth player in franchise history to reach 700 points with a two-assist game, which put his total up to 701 (see story). He also moved into a tie with Brian Propp for second all-time in team history with 480 helpers. The Flyers dominated just about every play-driving metric and outshot the Lightning, 45-26. Their power play awoke with three goals.

“It’s hard. We want to take a lot of positives out of that,” said Travis Konecny, who had his fourth career two-goal game. “It shows what we have in the locker room. It’s just tough to look at it that way. (Head coach Dave Hakstol) comes in between the second and third and says we’re actually playing a good game, it’s just we got to get our bounces and stick together.”

Stuck together they did, and if we want to take anything away from Saturday’s OTL, it’s that. That didn’t happen three weeks ago.

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Lightning 6, Flyers 5 (OT): Furious comeback ends in heartbreak

Lightning 6, Flyers 5 (OT): Furious comeback ends in heartbreak

BOX SCORE

What began as a promising five-game homestand ended in heartbreak Saturday afternoon.

The Flyers (9-9-2) dropped their season-high third straight game with a 6-5 overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Wells Fargo Center to finish the homestand 2-2-1.

Anthony Cirelli scored the game-winner at 1:41 in overtime.

Tampa temporarily moves atop the NHL standings. The Eastern Conference-leading Bolts are 14-5-1 with 29 points. The Predators (27 points) host the Kings tonight.

• The big difference between this Flyers team and the one that left Philly on Oct. 27 after a 6-1 clunker to the Islanders is its fight. Tampa went up 5-1 and things were getting ugly. But the Flyers fought back with four straight goals and forced overtime. The Flyers rung off four goals on eight shots in a span of 6:04. Travis Konecny had two and both Sean Couturier and Wayne Simmonds had one.

They lost and it was an unsuccessful homestand, but they didn't lay down like they did three weeks ago. This was really an effort in which you're happy with a point.

• This is a story about an unstoppable force meeting a very movable object, and well, you know the result. It was not pretty.

The Flyers' 30th-ranked penalty kill surrendered three power-play goals. The Flyers now have allowed an NHL-worst 22 power-play goals. They have allowed three power-play goals two times and multiple power-play goals five times. They have gone just five games without allowing a PPG. The Flyers played with the NHL's fifth-best power play and were electrocuted. Tampa was 3 for 4 on the power play.

You cannot win in the NHL with a penalty kill this ineffective.

• Finally, the Flyers' power play struck twine Saturday. In fact, it recorded a hat trick. James van Riemsdyk ended an 0-for-15 drought in the second period and Konecny and Couturier added two in the third period.

The Flyers' PP is now 6 for its last 48 opportunities since Oct. 13 and has just six goals at home. Really, special teams have been the Flyers' biggest wart, and it hurt them again Saturday. As bad as the PK has been, the PP has been equally feeble.

But Saturday's development was a huge positive.

• Claude Giroux, after two pointless games, picked up an assist on JVR's PPG for his 700th career point as a Flyer (see story).

With another helper in the third period, Giroux became tied with Brian Propp for second on the franchise's all-time assists list (480) and is 149 points from passing Propp for third on the team's all-time scoring list.

Giroux now has 24 points in 20 games this season and is on pace for 98.4 points. He is an all-time Flyer and somehow, he's still underappreciated by a good portion of the fan base.

• Calvin Pickard's stat line Saturday doesn't read well: six goals on 26 shots. But it's hard to fault him. He wasn't bad. Tampa's second goal was a bit leaky but its others don't fall on Pickard. With Brian Elliott out two weeks, the Flyers will need Pickard to raise his level of play. He mostly did that Saturday.

• The Flyers came out ready to play with a strong first period, outshooting the Lightning, 18-7, and had 21 shot attempts at 5-on-5. The biggest takeaway was how the Flyers were attacking Tampa. The forwards went to high-danger areas and the defense had just six shot attempts at 5-on-5. That's usually a successful formula for scoring, but goalie Louis Domingue was the Lightning's best player despite some shaky moments.

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