Wayne Simmonds' performance last night was incredible all around. Not just because of the two goals he contributed to the Flyers 4 - 1 win over Nashville, but because he's one of this team's best in a heavy fought scrum anywhere on the ice. Seriously, even throughout his goal droughts earlier on, Wayne never lost his physicality and ability to dig the puck from along the boards, keeping it possessed by the Flyers.
Last night one of this league's better defenders, Ryan Suter, winded up looking like a rookie blue liner versus our #17 skater. On Wayne's first potted puck, he managed to distance himself from Suter deep in Nashville's zone with grit and tenacity that would make Clint Eastwood look like Perez Hilton --
To be able to get open like he did, keep possession of the rubber and skate it into the slot against this league's tougher defenses is pretty outstanding. But to carry the momentum back in the opposite direction and snap the puck off for a lit lamp is even more impressive.
Later on in the 3rd period, Simmonds' brought his confidence with him on the power-play.
He camped in front of Nashville's netminder Anders Lindback and picked up a garbage goal that came off of Claude Giroux's attempt from just inside the blue line. The crease and slot were Wayne's kingdom and he reigned dominance throughout the land like an English Lord....only less English sissiness --
I'm sure a group of Her Majesty's soccer hooligans would love to speak to me about that last reference.
Another Orange Soldier rousing Lindback's twine was our Bemidji State anomaly, Matt Read, in the 2nd period. Nashville's defenseman Kevin Klein had the puck pillaged from his stick by Read in the Flyers zone. Skating over the blue line uncontested, Read fired a wrister through Lindback's bulwark and put the home attendance on their feet.
Read's 16th of the season, keeping him ranked first in the league among rookies in the goals-scored column.
Let's not forget another awesome display of icy awesomeness; Ilya Bryzgalov made the saves he should have and beyond, dropping the Iron Curtain on 26 of 27-shots on his pipes. His Bryz'ness has guarded the wickets very well in his last two outings since the All-Star break. He's seemed calm and collected in net and his size has officially been used as an advantage.
By that I mean he's used the size of his legs and arms effectively through speed and anticipating the attack's attempts. I've noticed, also, less rebounds and second chances he's given the opposition. Ilya's taken the shots and absorbed them into his midsection, forcing the clock to stop and gives our boys a chance at the faceoff dot.
Throughout the first half of the season, when Bryzgalov wasn't getting beat by pinballing deflections, he was allowing open range shots to the back of the cage, or admitting the puck through his 5-hole.
Basically, very soft goals.
Hopefully he's beginning to turn into what this franchise pays him to be: a true #1 goaltender. He had only gotten beaten one time in 60-minutes by (ironically) Ryan Suter who had Ilya's far side completely open after a Nashville oddman rush.
Classy move of the evening goes to Jaromir Jagr who had a wide open net after the Music Capital pulled Anders from the pipes in the final two minutes of the 3rd.
Jags skated into the Preds' zone with the puck on his blade and Claude Giroux at his side. Instead of sending Nashville to bed himself, Jaromir handed the rubber off to Claude who buried his very first NHL career empty net goal, and his first goal since the Winter Classic --
With the 4 - 1 win in the books, the Flyers snapped Nashville's five-game winning streak and still remain 4th in the Eastern Conference standings, tied with Boston (2nd) at 66-points. Also, last night's victory officially gives Philadelphia their 30th win, only the sixth NHL Club to do so this season.
One more sugar coated factoid?
Wayne Simmonds has more goals (16) and more points (29) than Mike Richards (14G, 26pts) of the Los Angeles Kings.
"We miss you Richie!"
Yea, like we miss Disco music.
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