Flyers' Simmonds one away from team record

Simmonds
Simmonds
Posted: December 31, 2013

VANCOUVER - Some mornings, like yesterday at the team hotel overlooking Coal Harbour, Scott Hartnell is envious of Sean Couturier.

It's not that Hartnell wishes he was was a decade younger. His body just feels the destruction his rambunctious style of play has wreaked.

"I was looking at Couturier today in the locker room. He gets to sit there, relax, watch the football games and put on his skates to go practice," Hartnell said. "I wake up, my shoulders are tight, my hips are sore. I had a welt on my calf from a slash I didn't even know I took. I have to get on the bike, do some extra stretching, maybe get treatment.

"I feel a lot older than I am at 31."

Tonight against the Canucks, Hartnell's linemate, Wayne Simmonds, can become the first player in the 46-season history of the Flyers to score two or more goals in four consecutive games.

He's done it the dirty way so far, getting hacked and whacked. On Saturday night in Edmonton, Simmonds redirected one Claude Giroux shot and put in another with his feet almost touching the blue paint in Ilya Bryzgalov's crease.

"I think we try to overcomplicate things sometimes and that hurts us," Simmonds said after a brisk practice yesterday afternoon. "We can't play like we're the Harlem Globetrotters. We've got to stick to our game."

Heading into the third period against the Oilers, coach Craig Berube had a fiery message for his team during the intermission.

"Where the [bleep] do you score your goals?" Berube asked his team, Hartnell recalled. Point taken. Kimmo Timonen's shot hit Hartnell's stick, while he was screening Bryzgalov, for the game-tying goal that ultimately earned the Flyers two points by virtue of a 4-3, shootout victory.

"I don't think every player has the fit or the want to stand in front of the net, take cross-checks and have pucks blasted at you going 100 miles per hour," Hartnell said. "Simmer is a guy who has done a great job being in front of the net. That's where the action happens."

Reggie Leach (Oct. 11-15, 1981; Jan. 4-7, 1976) and Ross Lonsberry (Feb. 5-8, 1976) are the only other players in Flyers history to score multiple goals in three straight games. Neither one could push the streak to four.

Simmonds is the first NHL player to score two or more in three straight games since San Jose's Patrick Marleau, who compiled a four-game streak Jan. 20-26, 2013.

With even one point tonight at Rogers Centre, Simmonds can tie his career-high point streak of six games, set with the Kings from Nov. 25-Dec. 5, 2009. Jake Voracek (nine games) and Claude Giroux (eight games) also have streaks on the line.

"Wayne never changed his game when he wasn't scoring," Berube said. "He's played pretty well the same way the whole time. He's not a 'rush' guy, he's a 'net' guy. He does all the little things, working hard to get in there and gets the puck up to the 'D.' He's at the net all the time."

Berube has two key philosophies: One is that every player, regardless of skill or role, can play the same without the puck, and the other is that it's tough to score when you're not in front of the goalie. He noted last week so few goals are scored cleanly or, as Simmonds said, in Globetrotter fashion.

In the NHL, there is no gain without pain. Simmonds has the bruises and stats to show for it.

"It's nice," Simmonds said. "We probably had the worst start to the season of all of our careers, so I guess you could just say we're trying to make up for lost time. The team's on the right track. We're starting to go right now."

Slap shots

With three power-play goals in Edmonton, the Flyers clawed to 15th in the NHL (18.4 percent) after starting the year 30th (2-for-30, 6 percent) . . . The Flyers have only lost once in Vancouver since Dec. 31, 1989 (10-1-4) . . .

Tonight marks the second game in a row the Flyers will face a team that played the night before in Calgary . . . Roberto Luongo (lower body), Alex Edler (knee) and Alex Burrows (jaw) are out for the Canucks . . .

Expect Steve Mason (3-2 loss vs. Vancouver on Oct. 15) to start, with Ray Emery handling the duties in Calgary tomorrow night in Calgary. Emery is 6-2-1 with a .947 save percentage and 1.43 goals-against average in his career against the Flames.


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