Philadelphia Flyers right-winger Wayne Simmonds ended the preseason by missing the final game against the Capitals with a lower-body injury – after presumably taking a puck off his leg in a game vs. the Rangers – and wearing a walking boot.
He did not practice with the team in the five days leading up to the regular season opener against the Boston Bruins and his status was in question for game.
His availability was up in the air even 24 hours before the puck was supposed to drop. It wasn’t until the morning skate on the day of the game that Simmonds finally shed the boot for a pair of skates and started on the second line that night.
While his return was a welcomed sight, Simmonds was nearly invisible during the game. He didn’t register a point or a shot in 16 minutes of ice time during a 2-1 loss.
Fast forward four games and just over a week later and Simmonds is one of the hottest players in the league. In the four games since facing the Bruins, Simmonds has tallied five goals, including three on the power play, and added two assists.
Simmonds, who led the Flyers with 29 goals last year, didn’t score his fourth goal of the season until the 17th game of the year.
“Sometimes you have a slow start and sometimes you have a great start,” defenseman Mark Streit said after last Tuesday’s loss to the Ducks. “If he scores like that for the rest of the season he is going to score like 80 goals. Obviously that is not going to happen but he is off to a great start.”
Simmonds rebounded from the game with the Bruins to net two goals in the home opener and helped spark a comeback from a 3-0 deficit with the Devils. The Scarborough, Ontario, native added goals against the Canadiens and Ducks and set up the key screen on Claude Giroux’s game-winner in OT in Dallas on Saturday.
He is tied with Corey Perry for first in the league in power play goals. Simmonds sits tied for third in the league in overall points. Just as impressive is Simmonds has walked a delicate line playing his physical game. He has yet to commit a penalty after serving 106 minutes in the box last year.
While Simmonds is delivering every game, his teammates have not yet played a full game.
“It’s the same thing (every) game,” Simmonds said after last Tuesday’s 4-3 loss to the Ducks in a shootout. “We’re putting it together, we’re showing that we can play in spurts. It’s just the full 60 that we’ve got to play. We’ve got to compete for the full 60 minutes or else we are not going to win.”
One things is for sure, the Flyers are getting a full 60 every night from No. 17.
“He was great last season and is probably the best guy in the league in front of the net,” Streit said. “He’s there tipping pucks, he’s screening on the (power play) and he goes where you get the bruises. He has great hands and a sense of where the puck is going to end up.
“He is a huge player for us, he is a warrior out there. This is my second year here and he was great last year."