New line aids Flyers' improvement

Scrappy winger Wayne Simmonds, one of the Flyers’ best goal scorers the past two years, has scuffled in the season’s first six weeks: two goals in 18 games.

But Simmonds, like Brayden Schenn, has found some chemistry lately on a line that is centered by veteran Vinny Lecavalier. The Flyers are 3-0-1 since that trio was put together.

All three can play a physical game, and Lecavalier is also a smooth playmaker.

“When you get pucks deep and have another physical presence with you up in the rush, it’s a lot easier,” said Simmonds, who has a point in each of his last three games. “I like working with Brayden and Vinny. I’ve played with Brayden a long time and always enjoyed playing with him for the simple fact I know he will always be up in the rush with me. It’s easy to forecheck when you’ve got two guys in there. The first guy takes the body, second guy comes in to take the puck, and I know when I am on the ice with them, that is what will happen.”

Lecavalier, 33, leads the Flyers with seven goals.

“I don’t think age is barrier for Vinny,” said the 25-year-old Simmonds. “You look at him and he looks like he’s 19 years old still. He’s in great shape and he’s a workhorse out there. He’s strong; he’s powerful and he gets up and down the ice pretty quickly.”

The Flyers (7-10-2) have a four-game points streak entering Tuesday’s game against visiting Ottawa (8-8-4).

“We thought we were working hard and we weren’t working hard enough,” Simmonds said. “Now guys are putting in the extra time. We’re skating more in practice and I find it a lot easier to skate in game. I think that is definitely attributed to the more skating we’ve done in practice.”

The Flyers, trying to make up ground in the Metropolitan Division, have home games this week against Ottawa, Buffalo and the Islanders.

“It’s an important week,” Simmonds said. “We had success the last three games on the road and we want to carry over the momentum back home. It starts with playing simple. We’ve got to keep things simple and not try to over-analyze things _ keep getting pucks deep, keep chipping pucks out of our zone, I think that’s what’s led to our success this far.”

Last Tuesday, the Flyers scored a 5-0 win over the Senators in Ottawa.

“We barely had any turnovers in that game,” Simmonds said. “They thrive off turnovers. They’re a transition team. They’ve got fast guys and they want to work in the neutral zone off the rush. If we can simplify our game and do it the way we did on the road in Ottawa, we’ll be fine.”

The Flyers are just 3-7 at home, while Ottawa is 4-3-2 on the road.

Breakaways. The Senators are allowing 36 shots per game, tied for last in the NHL; the Flyers are 16th in the 30-team NHL, surrendering 30.1 shots per game….The Flyers are 11th in goals-against (2.47 per game) and 29th in goals scored (1.84 per game), while the Senators are 23d in goals-against (2.95) and ninth in goals (2.90)….In their last four games, the Flyers have outscored their opponents, 9-1, in even-strength situations.

Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter @BroadStBull.