Flyers

Wayne Simmonds scores his first goal with Predators

Wayne Simmonds scores his first goal with Predators

Wayne Simmonds had gone goalless in his first eight games with the Predators.

Add on his final 16 games with the Flyers and Simmonds entered Tuesday night with just one goal over his last 24 games.

However, anyone would tell you the Predators acquired Simmonds from the Flyers at the Feb. 25 trade deadline for much more than goals. His impact goes beyond numbers. It's hard to find a better locker-room guy — and that's more than just a cliché; those type of players are valued, especially for contending teams eyeing advantages at the margins.

Jakub Voracek called Simmonds his best friend. Claude Giroux called him the "ultimate warrior" and "best teammate." The Flyers' captain was even at a loss for words when talking about Simmonds following the Feb. 23 Stadium Series win, their final game together.

That night, from the Eagles' locker room in Lincoln Financial Field, Simmonds took the time to shake the hands of media members, who wanted to wish him well.

Classy and respected by everyone.

But Simmonds can still put the puck in the net, too. He did so for the first time with his new team when he lit the lamp in Nashville's 3-0 victory Tuesday night over the Maple Leafs.

To see the joy on his face, it had to be a relief. 

The Predators have won three straight and are trying to catch the Jets for first place in the Central Division.

Soon, Simmonds will be playing postseason hockey.

Don't be surprised to see him right in the middle of things.

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Penguins' Evgeni Malkin may have complimented Flyers fans

Penguins' Evgeni Malkin may have complimented Flyers fans

At least Evgeni Malkin understands he is not well-liked in Philadelphia, nor are his Penguins.

That is clear.

The three-time Stanley Cup champion Malkin was unhappy with Penguins fans Sunday when they sarcastically cheered Matt Murray for some saves after the goalie had allowed two markers in just over two minutes of a game against the Bruins. Murray, who has won two Cups with the Penguins, surrendered three goals in the first period of the game Pittsburgh eventually won, 4-3.

Malkin was annoyed by the mock cheers for the 25-year-old Murray.

Via a story by The Athletic's Rob Rossi, here's what Malkin said:

It was stupid.

I’m not understanding our fans. Muzz won two Cups for us. You boo him — why? If you come to the arena, support our team. All of us. We try. We play so hard this year. We work so hard through injuries. We play good hockey. Maybe not last couple games, not early this game. But we try.

I understand: You pay money for ticket, you do what you want. But it’s tough to sit on bench and hear that. I don’t like it. We hear that in Philly, not Pittsburgh.

What Malkin likely meant by his Philly comment was that the Penguins expect to be jeered in Philadelphia by the rival fans, but not by their home fans in their own building.

That irked the 33-year-old Malkin, who has played in Pittsburgh his entire 14-year career. Malkin was sticking up for a teammate, which anyone can respect.

What's also clear is Malkin probably wouldn't love playing in Philly full-time. Everybody knows the city's tough love with its sports teams. Boos are expected when expectations aren't met.

Carter Hart put it well in December:

“Sure, they get on us when we’re not playing well, but as an athlete in a big sports market, what more could you ask for?” Hart said. “They’re loyal and they’re passionate.”

Maybe Flyers fans will sarcastically cheer Malkin Tuesday night. You've got to love their creativity.

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Flyers vs. Penguins: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

Flyers vs. Penguins: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

The Flyers would much rather go into their NHL-mandated Jan. 22-30 bye week riding a win over the Penguins than stewing over a loss to the division rival.

They'll decide their fate ahead of the break Tuesday night when the Flyers (26-17-6) host the Penguins (31-13-5).

Let's get into the essentials:

When: 7:30 p.m. ET
Where: Wells Fargo Center
Broadcast: NBC Sports Network
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com

• If the Flyers want to beat Pittsburgh, they'll have to find a way to at least somewhat slow down Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

Since returning from core muscle surgery, Crosby has eight points (three goals, five assists) in four games, while Malkin has gone scoreless only twice over his last 19 games, a stretch in which he has put up 28 points (nine goals, 19 assists).

Those two have notoriously hurt the Flyers. Crosby owns 102 points (42 goals, 60 assists) in 68 career games against the Flyers and Malkin boasts 70 points (27 goals, 43 assists) in 56 lifetime meetings with the orange and black.

During the Flyers' 7-1 loss to the Penguins on Oct. 29, the lone matchup thus far in 2019-20, Crosby enjoyed a three-point game and Malkin was out. The Flyers have been far better defensively at home, so let's see what adjustments they make in Game 2 of the four-game regular-season series.

• Speaking of playing at home, the Flyers have taken significant strides in that area. They are 16-4-4 with 36 points at home after going 19-18-4 with 42 points last season.

Another important improvement has been their play against the Metropolitan Division. The Flyers are 8-2-3 vs. divisional opponents compared to a 10-16-2 mark against the Metro last season.

Interestingly, the Flyers and Penguins have been polar opposites against the Eastern and Western Conferences. The Flyers are 18-6-4 vs. the East compared to 8-11-2 against the West, while the Penguins are 11-9-3 vs. the East compared to 20-4-2 against the West.

• The Flyers will be without Michael Raffl (upper body) as rookie call-up German Rubtsov enters the lineup.

Joel Farabee, who has goals in back-to-back games, should see greater minutes.

Projected lineup

Forwards

Claude Giroux-Kevin Hayes-Travis Konecny
Joel Farabee-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
James van Riemsdyk-Scott Laughton-Nicolas Aube-Kubel
German Rubtsov-Connor Bunnaman-Tyler Pitlick

Defensemen

Ivan Provorov-Matt Niskanen
Travis Sanheim-Philippe Myers
Robert Hagg-Justin Braun

Goalies

Brian Elliott
Alex Lyon

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