Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov revealed Wednesday he played Game 6 against the Penguins with a Grade 3 separated left shoulder that will not need surgery. He said if it had occurred in the regular season, he would have been sidelined for six to eight weeks.
That seemed like a bombshell — until right winger Wayne Simmonds gave a medical report on his season: He had a broken ankle from a blast fired by teammate Shayne Gostisbehere and stayed in the lineup because, in his words, “it wasn’t weight-bearing on the bone, so you’re still able to play with that.” He lost six teeth from getting hit with a stick, tore ligaments in his right thumb — causing him to be sidelined for seven games, the only ones he missed — and later played with a pin in his hand.
There’s more. He played the entire season with a tear in his pelvis area, which caused him to overcompensate on the ice and suffer a pulled groin.
And, so, yes, it’s understandable that Simmonds seemed a step or two slow all season — contributing to his team-worst minus-16 rating — and wasn’t his relentless self.
What’s amazing is that, despite all the medical issues, he still managed to score 24 goals, though he was goal-less in the six-game quarterfinals against the Penguins.
“It’s pretty crazy,” center Sean Couturier said about Simmonds’ long list of injuries. “We all knew he was hurt, but he’s a guy who lays it all out there every night and gives his all. He’ll do whatever he can for his teammates.”
Simmonds expects to have pelvis surgery soon and said he will be 100 percent when next season begins. He can become an unrestricted free agent after next season, but there’s a chance the Flyers try to sign him to an extension this summer.
“From the beginning of training camp, I had a torn pelvis and all I could do was try to play through it,” Simmonds said during exit interviews Wednesday at the Flyers’ practice facility in Voorhees.
He said doctors said he couldn’t do any more damage, so he continued to play.
Scoring a hat trick in the season opener made him think the injury was no big deal.
“I think that had something to do with it,” he said, smiling, when asked if that made him think he could play through the injury. “….But it didn’t go too well after that.”
The injury affected his skating and “didn’t allow me to have the power I usually have,” said Simmonds, who on April 11 claimed he was 100 percent healthy as the playoffs started. “It was extremely frustrating. Your brain’s telling your body to do it, but your body’s not doing it.”
Added Simmonds: “I don’t regret playing through it. That’s just my character.”
He said he would have missed about six weeks if he had surgery during the season. “I don’t know if it’s the right thing, but I can’t not play,” he said. “It’s just geared in my head to where if I’m not dead or not deathly sick, I’m going to try to get out there and do whatever I can.”
Unless he signs an extension, Simmonds’ name will be floated in trade rumors.
“Obviously, this is where I want to be for the rest of my career, but I do realize at the same time that hockey is a business and whatever happens, happens,” said Simmonds, one of the NHL’s most consistent power forwards.
As for Prorovov, he had problems stickhandling and couldn’t shoot in Game 6 against Pittsburgh, but he played through the pain and was used for 20 minutes, 31 seconds — a staggering amount considering his condition. He was minus-4 and two of his turnovers led to Penguins goals.
In hindsight, does he think he played too much in a critical game in which he was a shell of his usual self?
“I did all the tests with all the doctors before the game and they said I was good to go and it was up to me,” he said. “Like I said, as long as my arm was attached, I was playing.”
He said the pain became intense in the final period.
“I was starting to lose the feel for my arm, lost the puck a couple times and turned it over,” he said. “As a competitor, it’s hard not to be out there and not try everything to help the team win.”
With Provorov so limited, it was curious that coach Dave Hakstol dressed just six defensemen and scratched Travis Sanheim.
A late Flyers defensive meltdown in Game 6 helped the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins advance with an 8-5 win.
The Flyers haven’t won a playoff series since 2012, but they made strides this season and developed numerous young players.
“We’ve got to win at least a playoff series next year,” right winger Jake Voracek said, adding there was a bright future because of the young talent. “Hopefully, we’re not that far off.”