Flyers' secondary top of the line

Posted: December 24, 2013

WHEN THEY get moving, it is almost impossible to ignore the sound created by the trio of Wayne Simmonds, Scott Hartnell and Brayden Schenn - similar to the unmistakable chug of a Polar Express freight train without brakes.

But that's exactly what the Minnesota Wild did last night. Not that those three mind.

With all eyes focused on the hottest line in hockey - Claude Giroux, Jake Voracek and Michael Raffl - it has opened up more room for one of the league's most punishing units.

"I wouldn't call that secondary scoring," Voracek said. "If everyone is going to chip in like we've done the last few games, we are going to be a very dangerous team."

Simmonds netted two goals for the second straight game as the Flyers put together one of their most complete games of the season to head into the holiday break with a 4-1 win over the Wild.

As a whole, Simmonds' line combined for five points and helped wear down Minnesota's blue line. They don't have the 28 combined points Giroux's line has compiled in the last six games, but they have been an important component in finally getting over the .500 hump.

Simmonds has five points in his last two games and is riding a four-game point streak.

"Hard work," Flyers coach Craig Berube said is what has made the difference. "I thought they were real good tonight because all three of them worked hard together. For that line to be successful, they all need to work. They all need to play a power game."

Both Giroux (seven games) and Voracek (eight) extended their career-high point streaks.

More important, the Flyers played an aggressive third period with the lead to string together their ninth consecutive win at the Wells Fargo Center. Last night marked the first time they'd won a ninth straight home game since Nov. 12, 2005.

Like a string of multicolored Christmas lights, the Flyers have dangled different types of wins during this streak. Some have been pretty, some not so much.

"Two wins ago, we had an epic comeback victory, so it seems like we're doing it in a lot of different ways," said Hartnell, who picked up his 500th career point in the game. "We didn't stop there in the last 10 minutes of the game. We kept going."

The only problem is that the Flyers don't play another home game until Jan. 8. They embark on their longest trip of the season (8,701 miles) beginning Saturday night in Edmonton.

Nonetheless, the Flyers should feel good about what they've accomplished over the last 2 months. After a 1-7-0 start that had them on Santa's naughty list, the Flyers have rallied to go 16-9-4 in the 29 games since then to climb back into a playoff spot before the NHL's holiday break.

With one game in hand, they are in third place in the Metropolitan division over the Rangers.

"I think we've obviously changed some things up," Hartnell said. "I think it took a little while to learn how to play the right way. I know we don't want to let anyone down in here, turning the puck over and making soft plays. You're accountable to your teammates and the guy next to you in the dressing room."

For all the talk about Steve Mason's struggles of late, the Flyers' goaltender went his sixth straight start without a regulation loss (4-0-2). He is a sparkling 11-2-4 in his last 17 appearances since Nov. 5.

"It's definitely important," Mason said of the rebound. "You want to feel good about yourself, sitting around for the next couple days."

The Flyers have allowed a league-high five goals this season when playing against a five-on-three advantage. Minnesota scored its only goal with 9 seconds remaining on a two-man power play . . . Steve Downie sat out his second straight game with an "upper-body" injury. Earlier in the day, Downie donated 63 copies of Scott Hartnell's kids' book Hartnell Down to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia . . . Nick Grossmann (flu) returned to the lineup . . . Filling in for Erik Gustafsson (left knee sprain), Andrej Meszaros played for the first time in six games.


On Twitter: @DNFlyers

Blog: ph.ly/FrequentFlyers

|
|
|
|
|