Rangers Are Probably Not the Team the Flyers Want to See When Theyre 0-3

Rangers Are Probably Not the Team the Flyers Want to See When Theyre 0-3

Nearly two calendar years have passed since the Flyers last defeated
the New York Rangers in a hockey game. On February 20, 2011, Philadelphia
posted a 4-2 victory thanks in part to goals from Jeff Carter, Claude Giroux, Dan
Carcillo, and Kris Versteeg, not to mention 37 saves by Brian Boucher. To put
that in perspective, four of those players are wearing different uniforms, while the other since had a 'C' patched to his sweater.

The Flyers’ losing streak at the hands of the Rangers has
grown to eight in a row, including last season’s six-game sweep obviously. Over
that span, they’ve been outscored 34-13, including two shutouts, and have
earned only a single point in the standings. They’ve been beaten whether the
game was played home or away, indoors or outdoors in the Winter Classic. A Team
New York captained by Brad Richards even beat a Team Philly captained by Scott
Hartnell in an exhibition game during the lockout.

And every time it’s been Henrik Lundqvist in net, a riddle
the shooters in Orange & Black have been unable to solve. Last season alone,
he turned away 30 shots per game against the Flyers, racking up a 1.83 goals
against average and .942 save percentage in the process.

All of which wouldn’t appear to bode well for the home team
tonight, who have been experiencing some difficulty when it comes to scoring
through three games this season. The Flyers have tallied just three goals on
their way to their 0-3 start, and Giroux owns two of them. The other has been
their lone tally to come on a power play in 15 tries, a lowly 6.7% conversion
rate that ranks 28th in the NHL.

To make matters worse, they’ll be extremely short-handed
tonight. Both of G’s linemates are out tonight – Scott Hartnell with a foot
injury, Brayden Schenn serving his suspension – which means a brand new top
pairing
featuring Wayne Simmonds and Matt Read. This of course will cause additional shakeups throughout the lineup. The club also remains without
Danny Briere or Zac Rinaldo, so they are a little thin at forward to say the
least.

If there is any good news at all, it’s the Rags are making
the trip to the Wells Fargo Center on the second half of a back-to-back. The
Boston Bruins gave New York all they could handle in a back-and-forth battle
that finally ended in overtime off of Marion Gaborik’s third goal of the night
to clinch the 4-3 victory – only their first of the season. But any advantage –
home-ice, rest, or otherwise – is seemingly lost given all the absences that
are stacking up for the Flyers.

Simmonds is calling Thursday night’s game a “must-win.” That’s
probably a tad extreme, but if you thought 0-3 was a reason to panic, you’re
not going to feel any more comfortable if Philadelphia drops to 0-4.
Unfortunately recent trends are not swinging in the Flyers’ favor, so this
season still has the potential to get a lot worse before it gets better.

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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 began the 2016 season with the Mariners and had a 5.18 ERA in 26 games. He was traded to Toronto in July and gave up just one run in 23 2/3 innings over 25 games, but did not pitch in the postseason after suffering a torn calf muscle in late September.

The right-hander has pitched for six teams in his career and has a lifetime 3.79 ERA 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 mostly pitched 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 choose 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.