Wayne Simmonds‘ emergence as one of the Philadelphia Flyers‘ all-time best warriors has not been lost during the battles of this shortened hockey year.
Tuesday’s game against the New York Rangers was similar to a contest that “Simmer” played against the Ottawa Senators last season. During that March 31 event, Simmonds received a gash above his right eye and on the bridge of his nose from a puck that was shot by Brayden Schenn. The disc bounced off his face and into the Senators’ net for his 26th goal of that season.
Simmonds went to the locker room, received stitches and returned to the ice to finish the game.
Last night, Brayden’s brother Luke Schenn lifted a puck directly into Simmonds’ face during a clearing attempting from in front of the Flyers’ crease. Simmonds went to the locker room, received stitches securing the area between the left side of his nose and mouth and returned to play. Later, he returned to action and scored his eleventh goal of the season.
Yes, the former Los Angeles Kings‘ power forward has only been wearing his bloody orange and black sweater for less than two full hockey years, but anyone who is a longtime Flyers’ fan knows that he’s already taken his place among other “Bullies” legends.
More than just a tough guy (114 penalty minutes last season, 61 so far this year), this 24-year-old man also ranked fourth among the team’s scoring leaders in 2011-12 (28 goals, 21 assists). During this locked-out year, he currently ranks third on the Flyers’ scoring leader board with 11 goals and 10 assists.
The 70 points that comprise Simmonds’ combined seasonal totals reminds me of Dave Schultz‘ two-way abilities.
“The Hammer” scored 51 goals and added 64 assists during the four-plus seasons that he spent in Philadelphia. Included in that total were 20 goals and 16 assists that he posted during the Flyers’ first Stanley Cup championship season in 1973-74.
It’s a different era and Simmonds isn’t going to ever match the 348 penalty minutes that Schultz earned in 1973-74, or the astounding National Hockey League-record 472 minutes that he wrangled in 1974-75. But, he’s likely to maintain his scoring “punch” for the remainder of his contract that lasts through the 2018-19 season.
As a side note: Paul Baxter of the Pittsburgh Penguins secured second-place in the NHL record books when he tallied 409 minutes during the 1981-82 season. That defenseman also added nine goals and 34 assists for the Penguins that year.
With history in mind: There aren’t nearly enough players like Simmonds on this Flyers team. General manager Paul Holmgren must bolster his two-way warrior base if he wants to push his squad closer to legitimate Cup contention.