Flyers

Wayne Simmonds savors what might have been his final game as a Flyer, a comeback win over Penguins in Stadium Series

Wayne Simmonds savors what might have been his final game as a Flyer, a comeback win over Penguins in Stadium Series

In a very celebratory Flyers locker room, the emotions started to feel sentimental.

After scoring the game-winner in the Flyers' comeback, 4-3 overtime victory over the Penguins on Saturday night at Lincoln Financial Field (see observations), Claude Giroux passed his player of the game helmet to Jakub Voracek, who scored the game-tying goal with 20 seconds remaining. Voracek handed it over to Wayne Simmonds.

And from there, it sat in Simmonds' stall, as more of a lifetime achievement award.

It may be the final time Simmonds wears that helmet or a Flyers sweater with this collection of teammates — guys like Voracek and Giroux he’s been with for the past eight years.

“He’s one of my best friends, so it’s kind of stressful for me, as well,” Voracek said. “There are some things you can not change in the locker room and he knows it. He’s been a warrior.”

It’s widely believed the "Wayne Train" made one final stop here in Philadelphia before he’s off to his next destination, and there’s a sense that the Nashville Predators, with former Flyers coach Peter Laviolette, are now the front-runner to land Simmonds by Monday’s deadline. 

“It quite possibly could [have been my last game with the Flyers],” Simmonds said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen. Obviously I’d like to stay here, but it’s out of my hands now.”

Simmonds knows, to some degree, and he’s likely known for quite some time. His agent Eustace King and Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher haven’t made any significant progress toward a long-term extension, and Simmonds is a coveted asset with teams looking to add an element of toughness as they approach the postseason.

If this is the way it goes down, Simmonds couldn’t have scripted it much better as the Flyers scored twice in the final 3:04 of regulation to tie the game before Giroux’s overtime winner.

“You savor it a little more,” Simmonds said. “This has been my home. I’ve lived in Toronto in the offseason and Philadelphia. I can truly say I’ve given everything I’ve had to Philadelphia the last eight years.”

After the game, Giroux was asked about whether he had a last-ditch conversation with Fletcher to keep Simmonds in Philly, but ultimately the business side of these matters takes precedence.  

“You want the full conversation?” Giroux half-heartedly joked. “I don’t like to comment on it right now, because we don’t know what’s going to happen. It doesn’t mean we have to like it. Wayne’s been the best teammate and it’s just frustrating to think about right now.”

Simmonds can handle the transition. He was traded cross-country from Los Angeles to Philadelphia at the age of 22, but his wife Crystal has never quite experienced this type of stress, and to compound matters, she’s six and a half months pregnant with their first child.  

“We've got to figure out what we’ll be doing for the back half of the season and where we’ll deliver our baby," Simmonds said. "It’s been more than just hockey that’s running through my mind. 

“But I’m happy. I’m happy for what I’ve done in this city and I can truly say that.”

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Travis Konecny sets new career high as Flyers beat Blue Jackets to climb in NHL playoff race

Travis Konecny sets new career high as Flyers beat Blue Jackets to climb in NHL playoff race

BOX SCORE

The Flyers picked up a huge win in their playoff push with a 5-1 decision Tuesday night over the Blue Jackets at the Wells Fargo Center.

Kevin Hayes, Sean Couturier, Philippe Myers, Travis Konecny and Jakub Voracek all scored goals for the Flyers (33-20-7), who notched their 20th home win of 2019-20. They won only 19 games in Philly last season.

More impressively, the Flyers improved to 7-0-2 against the Capitals, Hurricanes and Blue Jackets. In 2018-19, they were 0-10-2 against those divisional foes.

Major improvements.

The Flyers also rebounded from another defeat as they haven't dropped consecutive outings since Jan. 4-7. In games after their last seven losses, the Flyers are 7-0-0 and have outscored the opposition 36-16.

The Blue Jackets (30-19-12) have allowed 15 goals to the Flyers through three matchups.

• Big, big win for the Flyers.

They’ve now jumped the Blue Jackets and Islanders to take over third place in the Metropolitan Division, although New York has two games in hand on the Flyers.

One of the more noticeable aspects of this win was the contributions from players who were not here in 2018-19. Hayes got things started, Myers (played only 21 games last season) was strong, Joel Farabee added two assists and Nicolas Aube-Kubel was reliable yet again.

• Thanks to a goal and two assists, Konecny set a new career high in points as he now has 51.

There are 22 games left in the Flyers’ season and the 22-year-old forward has already delivered in the first year of his six-year, $33 million deal.

• An impressive franchise record for captain Claude Giroux.

• Carter Hart improved to 15-2-2 with a 1.62 goals-against average at home.

Columbus goalie Elvis Merzlikins, who came in leading the NHL with five shutouts, was pulled during the third period after allowing four goals on 12 shots.

• During the second period, everyone saw why there’s so much potential and excitement behind the Travis Sanheim-Myers defensive pairing.

Some serious size, skating and skill — and both are only 23 years old.

• The Flyers’ 200-foot forces set the tone.

During the first period, Hayes and Couturier jumped on the Blue Jackets, who were allowing the NHL's second-fewest goals per game at 2.45.

From a crazy angle, Hayes scored his 18th goal of the season. The 27-year-old center has a great chance to break his career high of 25 goals set in 2017-18.

Couturier might finish the season as the Flyers’ leading scorer. He has 48 points and a plus-27 rating over his last 50 games.

• The Flyers fly to Columbus Wednesday afternoon ahead of another matchup with the Blue Jackets Thursday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

The Flyers then play three straight games at home against teams not in playoff position — Jets on Saturday (1 p.m. ET/NBCSP), Sharks next Tuesday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP) and Rangers next Friday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

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NHL trade rumors: Jeff Carter, Flyers buzz is picking back up

NHL trade rumors: Jeff Carter, Flyers buzz is picking back up

The Jeff Carter-Flyers buzz is back.

It started humming in January when Carter and the Kings visited the Flyers. It picked back up Tuesday with the latest 31 Thoughts article from Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman, always a must-read.

Per Friedman:

It might come down to Nolan Patrick’s health, but I think Philadelphia is considering Jeff Carter.

That would not be terribly surprising, as we noted in January. The Kings are at the bottom of the Western Conference and selling with Monday's NHL trade deadline on the horizon. As they retool, being open to moving an older player like Carter would make sense. The 35-year-old has a cap hit of $5,272,727, according to CapFriendly.com, and is under contract for 2020-21 and 2021-22.

That is most significant as it relates to the possibility of the Flyers adding Carter for their playoff push. The Flyers have just over $2 million in cap space. Even with Los Angeles retaining 50 percent of Carter's cap hit, the Flyers would have to do some juggling. And then the fact that Carter has two more years left on his deal might make things less appealing for the Flyers.

However, there are reasons why the Flyers are probably peeking in at Carter's availability. The center is a two-time Stanley Cup champion, four-time 30-plus goal-scorer and understands the pressure of playing in Philly. Returning to the city during a playoff race would only rejuvenate Carter, who could help the Flyers' depth down the middle and be a positive influence on the team's younger bottom-six forwards. Not to mention the former Flyer has 17 goals this season and is projected to finish with 24.

The Flyers could interest the Kings with a prospect and/or a draft pick. But what would they be willing to give up from a prospect pool that will build the future? And how do they make it work for the roster moving forward?

Those are big questions for a 35-year-old center with a big contract.

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