Updated: 3:35 p.m.
BUFFALO, N.Y. — Wayne Simmonds is heading back to Los Angeles, this time as an All-Star.
Simmonds on Tuesday was named as the Flyers’ lone representative to the Metropolitan Division team for the NHL All-Star Game on Sunday, Jan. 29, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
“It’s kind of surreal,” Simmonds said upon learning of his selection following the Flyers’ morning skate at KeyBank Center. “It makes me think when I was a young kid, watching the All-Star Games and watching all the great players who played in it. To even be mentioned in the same breath as All-Stars in the NHL, it’s pretty special and it’s a great accomplishment."
This marks Simmonds’ first selection to the All-Star Game in his nine-year career.
The 28-year-old winger has been exceptional for the Flyers this season with a team-leading 17 goals and 15 assists for 32 points in 42 games heading into Tuesday night’s contest with the Sabres (see game notes).
“He’s a guy that kind of epitomizes what it is to be a Philadelphia Flyer,” coach Dave Hakstol said. “And obviously, he has had a great season to this point.”
The All-Star selection means Simmonds will head back to where his career began in L.A. A second-round pick of the Kings in 2007, Simmonds was dealt to the Flyers along with Brayden Schenn in exchange for Mike Richards in June 2011 after playing three seasons in Southern California.
“It makes it that much more special,” Simmonds said. “I know Jakey (Jake Voracek) got a chance to play in the All-Star Game when it was in Columbus and I know that was pretty special to him. I think it goes the same for me.”
Simmonds has been Mr. Do-It-All for the Flyers as he’s an important piece of the league’s ninth-ranked power play with eight goals. This season, he’s become a key contributor in a new role on the penalty kill and even has a short-handed goal.
“Back [in L.A.] I was more of a defensive guy,” Simmonds said. “After my third year, I come to Philly and I completely switch roles to an offensive guy. Everything is kind of coming full circle now. I’ve got a chance to play on the PK. I’ve gotten better in my defensive zone over the years that I’ve been here. Just trying to put everything together and become a complete player.”
Simmonds has 149 goals and 134 assists for 283 points in his five-plus seasons with the Flyers.
“I think it’s terrific,” said general manager Ron Hextall, who was an assistant GM for the Kings when Simmonds was drafted. “He deserves it and sometimes players like him aren’t recognized and they should be because he’s a very good player. He’s one of those guys that just can grab the puck and muscle his way to the net. He’s got good hands in front of the net, he’s got speed, he’s good on the forecheck. He does a lot of good things.”
The NHL All-Star Game matches up the best from all four divisions and uses the league’s wildly popular 3-on-3 OT format. A skills competition will be held on Sat. Jan. 28 and Simmonds will participate, but the event he will participate in will be announced later.
“I don’t think I am the greatest at 3-on-3 but I think I can adjust a little bit,” said Simmonds, who has played often in overtime for the Flyers this season. “I’ll probably fly under the radar. It’s my first time going to the All-Star Game. I’m not trying to put on too big of a show or show anybody up. I’m just grateful.”
Mason in net
Steve Mason will be the Flyers’ goaltender for the second game in a row.
Michal Neuvirth returned for Saturday’s victory over the Lightning after missing 24 games with a knee injury, but Hakstol said he does not plan to rotate the goalies going forward.
“These guys are going to remain a tandem, they are going to work together, but no, I don’t have plan right now to go back and forth into a rotation,” Hakstol said. “[Mason] will go tonight and we play another three games in five days after that, so I’m sure somewhere along the way, we’ll use both of them.”
The Flyers are hoping to get their power play going again. Once ranked No. 1 in the NHL, the unit has scored in just 3 of its last 32 chances.
Tonight’s matchup should help the Flyers. Buffalo’s penalty kill ranks last in the league at 74.3 percent.
F: Michael Raffl-Claude Giroux-Matt Read
Dale Weise-Brayden Schenn-Wayne Simmonds
Travis Konecny-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
Chris VandeVelde-Pierre-Edouard Bellemare-Roman Lyubimov
D: Ivan Provorov-Andrew MacDonald
Michael Del Zotto-Radko Gudas
Brandon Manning-Shayne Gostisbehere
G: Steve Mason
Injured: Defenseman Mark Streit (shoulder)
Scratches: Forwards Nick Cousins (healthy) and Boyd Gordon (healthy), and defenseman Nick Schultz (healthy)
- CSNPhilly.com's Greg Paone contributed to this story.