About those Flyers/Capitals 2015 Winter Classic rumors and reports

About those Flyers/Capitals 2015 Winter Classic rumors and reports

No matter how good, bad, mediocre or dysfunctional the Philadelphia Flyers may be, they almost always draw the eyes and attention of North American viewers.

The latest proof of that is another potential Winter Classic appearance for the Orange and Black.

This came up a few days ago – sorry, that whole Christmas thing kind of got in the way – but CSNPhilly’s Tim Panaccio cited a Hockeybuzz.com report that the Flyers will travel to our nation’s capital to play the Washington Capitals outdoors in January 2015.

While nothing is in any way confirmed  - Panaccio noted a Flyers official didn’t verify anything and only said the team was a “finalist” - and the Boston Bruins have also been mentioned as an opponent for the Capitals in the game, the Flyers make sense as an opponent from both rivalry and geography points of view.

Have you seen any of the three games the new Metropolitan Division rivals have played against each other this season? Each contest has been action-packed and entertaining for a variety of reasons. The teams don’t seem to like each other and play great games against each other.

And let’s be honest, the shenanigans that occurred between the teams in early November – our worst Philly sports moment of 2013 – probably did nothing but help the Flyers’ chances of being the Caps’ opponent. You know NHL and NBC executives’ eyes just lit up upon seeing that.

As far as geography goes, D.C. is obviously just a short drive from Philadelphia and the game would be an instant sell out.

Panaccio mentioned Nationals Park and FedEx Field as potential game sites.

Nationals Park is kinda cool and just a few years old, but there’s nothing really special that sticks out about it. FedEx Field is in the middle of nowhere in some Maryland suburb and has that Dan Snyder stench all over it. That place may have to be crossed off the list just for the fact Snyder will almost certainly have his grimy hands in on any deal.

The Broad Street Hockey guys and Yahoo’s Puck Daddy both brought up an interesting prospect: Baltimore.

Baltimore is almost smack-dab, directly between D.C. and Philadelphia and has top-notch, downtown facilities in the Ravens’ M&T Bank Stadium and the Orioles’ beautiful Camden Yards.

I don’t know about you guys, but a neutral-site Winter Classic between the Flyers and Caps at Camden Yards sounds pretty damn cool to me.

Again, nothing has been confirmed yet. Just strong speculation. But it’s worth talking about.

If true, it would be the Flyers’ third Winter Classic appearance in six years.

Wayne Simmonds stars as Flyers top Predators, push win streak to 5 games

Wayne Simmonds stars as Flyers top Predators, push win streak to 5 games

BOX SCORE

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Dave Hakstol likes Wayne Simmonds’ net-front play more than that of any player in the league.

The Flyers' power forward showed on Sunday why his coach thinks that way.

Simmonds’ two power-play goals in front of the crease helped extend the Flyers’ win streak to five, their longest of the season, in a 4-2 win over the Nashville Predators on Sunday night (see Instant Replay).

“If there’s a better guy in the league at net front, whether it’s on power play or 5 on 5, I don’t know who that is,” said Hakstol said after Sunday's victory. “He did a great job there tonight.”

Simmonds’ first goal came when he deflected Jake Voracek’s shot past Juuse Saros, giving the Flyers a 1-0 lead at 18:12 of the first period.

“They had great movement around the top of the box and Jake told me to go back door if he was going to get it for a one-timer,” Simmonds said. “So I stuck my stick out back door and he hit it, and it went in the net.”

Then Simmonds batted a puck through Saros' legs for a 2-1 advantage at 6:47 of the second period for his team-leading 13th goal of the season.

“It was kind of a little bit of a cluster and the puck comes to me, and I’m alone in front of the net so I just put it five-hole and it worked,” Simmonds said.

The right wing’s father was watching in the sellout crowd of 17,113 at Bridgestone Arena during the Flyers' annual father-son trip.

“It was nice, obviously,” Simmonds said. “I just went outside and saw him. He didn’t really say much to me, but I know he’s glowing on the inside.”

Simmonds has now scored 10 career goals in 20 games against Nashville.

“What I really like about Simmer is he’s at net-front, he’s scoring goals, he’s on the power play, but he’s a great, hard-nosed, 200-foot player,” Hakstol said.

Simmonds’ goals gave the Flyers an early spark on Sunday.

“It was huge,” said Flyers left wing Michael Raffl, who scored the winning goal at 16:37 of the second period when made a power move on a rush and tucked the puck past Saros. “That gives us all the momentum.”

The Flyers improved to 7-3-1 in their last 11 games.

“We’re just trying to take care of pucks and maintain the pressure that we have,” Simmonds said. “The next shift up every game is the most important shift and that’s how we’re trying to play it here.”

Predators coach Peter Laviolette, a former Flyers coach, wasn’t surprised by his former team’s power-play success. The Flyers entered the game tied for the third best power play in the league cashed in twice on seven chances on Sunday.

“We knew going in that their power play was really good,” Laviolette said. “Their players have a lot of time together and cohesiveness and they’re pretty set in what they do. They bring pucks to the net and when they do that, things can happen. That was a difference in the game tonight.”

Winning goalie Steve Mason has started 10 of the last 11 games. He made 30 saves Sunday to improve his record to 8-8-3.

“This is the situation I want to be in, so it’s a workload that all summer you prepare for even when I was not getting the work load I wanted,” Mason said. “You prepare for it and now that it’s here I’m making the most of it.”

Sources: Phillies close to signing reliever Joaquin Benoit

Sources: Phillies close to signing reliever Joaquin Benoit

WASHINGTON – It looks as if the Phillies will have some action at the winter meetings.

The team is close to signing veteran reliever Joaquin Benoit, sources tell CSNPhilly.com. The winter meetings officially begin on Monday. The signing is expected to be announced before the meetings end on Thursday.

Benoit, 39, is a veteran of 15 seasons in the majors. He is coming off a strong 2016 season in which he pitched in 51 games for Seattle and Toronto and recorded a 2.81 ERA.

Benoit, a right-hander, has pitched for six teams in his career and has a lifetime ERA of 3.79 in 712 games.

Entering the offseason, Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said he wanted to improve the bullpen. He opened the offseason by trading for veteran right-hander Pat Neshek and last week claimed lefty David Rollins off waivers from Texas. Now, Klentak is poised to add Benoit.

Benoit has pitched mostly in a setup role in his career, but he does have closer experience. It is unclear what role he’d pitch in for the Phillies. The Phils have Jeanmar Gomez and Hector Neris returning to the back of their bullpen in 2017. Benoit could complement that pair or the Phillies could chose to trade Gomez or Neris. Neris pitched in 79 games in 2016 and had a 2.58 ERA, so the Phillies would only deal him if they were to get a strong package of talent in return.