Wayne’s World: He’s OK. One game removed from skating around in obvious discomfort, Wayne Simmonds seemed like his old self in Saturday’s 2-1 matinee victory over the Edmonton Oilers.
Simmonds, who did not practice Friday, scored the game winner at 17:45 of the third period after a magnificent cross goal swoop and feed from Valterri Filppula. By the real indicator that all was well in Wayne’s world was the heady assist he made on a first-period power play goal, pushing Shayne Gostisbehere’s deflected slapper away from a crowded goal crease and onto the stick of Claude Giroux’s off to the side, who banged it in.
Toughen up? The Edmonton Oilers broke a four-game losing streak with a spirited effort against Chicago Thursday night, registering 32 even-strength hits in a 2-1 overtime victory. It didn’t take long – maybe half of the first period – for them to ramp that up against the Flyers.
By the end of the first period, they had outhit the Flyers 14-4, and after two periods that advantage had increased to 25-11. It finished 31-18. There was plenty of chippiness to go along with that. Connor McDavid took a stick to the mouth from a teammate and later rapped Andrew MacDonald across the kisser with his own stick. And Milan Lucic took a vicious cheap shot on Scott Laughton’s back along his own bench as he attempted to make a change.
The Oilers have been in the 30s in hits over their last three games so that’s nothing new. And while we’ve appropriately focused on the Flyers team speed in their own spirited start to the season, it’s a little sobering to see them outhit, at home, over the last three games. Against Nashville Thursday, the Flyers registered just 12 hits to the Predators 22. Against Florida, they were outhit 22-13.
At first it looked like just an unfortunate accident, Jake Voracek losing an edge and taking out teammate Sean Couturier as he flew over him at mid-ice. The replay showed why though. Connor McDavid’s sudden acceleration and change of direction forced a quick adjustment by Voracek, and ultimately, his loss of balance. A deflected shot into the netting prevented a complete disaster, but the play is just another example of the toolbelt McDavid takes with him into games. He is fast, shifty, and strong. Late in the third period, McDavid and Robert Hagg basically arm-wrestled for a puck behind the Flyers net. Hagg, a physical defenseman, did everything positionally he could to stay between McDavid and the puck, but the Oilers center still managed to one-arm a pass right out in front of the net.
Claude Giroux brought his day game. Giroux’s opportunistic power play goal was just the tip of a first period of feverish activity that included another opportunity, a preventative check that bounced Edmonton’s 6-3 defenseman Adam Larsson backwards as he descended to deliver a big hit on the Flyers captain along the lower board and an end-of-the period joust with former Flyer Patrick Maroon.
Not sure this is a barometer but Giroux’s pregame jump shot – shooting hoops is part of his and other players’ pregame ritual – seemed particularly on.