Wayne Simmonds, Flyers find new energy heading into critical game vs. Devils

Wayne Simmonds, Flyers find new energy heading into critical game vs. Devils

Wayne Simmonds is energized.
 
That's good because tonight the Flyers are in New Jersey for the back end of a back-to-back against the Devils after shutting out the Penguins on Wednesday night.
 
Prudential Center has not been an easy building for the Flyers in recent years -- 2-3 since 2014-15.
 
Wednesday's 4-0 rout over the Penguins cut the Flyers' wild-card deficit to five points and bolstered the Flyers' morale for tonight's critical contest in Jersey.
 
"It was huge for us," Simmonds said. "We’re fighting for our lives. Every single game matters here.
 
"Mase [Steve Mason] had a big shutout for us. I thought we played well so we just have to continue it … going into Jersey."
 
On Wednesday, Simmonds notched his 200th career goal, his 161st as a Flyer. His next milestone is even bigger -- two points to hit 300 for his career.
 
"Yeah, it’s pretty cool," he said. "I never would have thought I'd play in the NHL, never even thought I'd score 200 goals, so it's pretty cool. It's even better that we got the two points."
 
Simmonds scored his 29th goal this season the way he scores most of them -- at the net, off a rebound, at the border of the paint, looking at the goalie, who happened to be Pittsburgh's Matt Murray on Wednesday.
 
"Murray's a great goalie," Simmonds said. "He gets in there, take his eyes away, you may not score on him on the first shot, but if you keep at it, second and third opportunities, generally that's when you score your goals and we did a good job with that."
 
Several Flyers said they don't feel they're out of the playoff picture, regardless of the math, which is not in their favor. In terms of catching the Islanders, the Flyers need to counter the 92 points the Isles are on pace for.
 
"We’ve come back from it seems like insurmountable deficits before," Simmonds said. "So we’re just going to keep our head down, keep grinding, and keep playing as hard as we can every game."
 
Ice time
Rookie defenseman Ivan Provorov played a season-high 27:17. It’s the second-highest TOI for a rookie this season and the highest by a rookie in a regulation game. The only rookie to top that was Boston's Brandon Carlo (27:59) on Dec. 12 at Montreal. Provorov is just the third Flyers rookie to play 27 or more minutes in a game since the stat was first tracked in 1998. The others were Alexandre Picard (32:42, Feb. 1, 2007 vs. New Jersey) and Mark Eaton (29:26, March 8, 2000 at Tampa Bay). Provorov also had an assist and blocked five shots.
 
Loose pucks
Steve Mason's 4-0 shutout over the Penguins on Wednesday was his 33rd shutout of his career. Exactly three years ago to the very day -- March 15, 2014 -- he beat the Penguins 4-0 at Wells Fargo Center. … Dale Weise (goal, assist) had his first multi-point game as a Flyer. … Sean Couturier had a trifecta: a goal, an assist and career-high eight shots on goal.

Flyers still facing long playoff odds after win over Penguins

Flyers still facing long playoff odds after win over Penguins

It's gotten rather bleak for the Flyers over the past week.
 
The last-second loss in Boston last Saturday afternoon was devastating, and coupled with the Islanders picking up points this week, the Flyers fell behind by seven points in the wild-card heading into Wednesday's game against visiting the visiting Penguins.
 
The 4-0 rout over road-weary Pittsburgh left the Flyers just five points out of the playoff picture as of Thursday morning.
 
So close … yet so far.
 
The Flyers now have 72 points. With 13 games left, they can max out at 98 points -- if they win out.
 
That's not going to happen.
 
They're going to need approximately 93 points to have a realistic shot. That's based on the Islanders, who have played one less game and are on pace to finish with 92 points.
 
Mind you, the Isles hold the second wild-card spot. Just to get to them, however, the Flyers have to leap frog over Florida, Toronto and Tampa Bay.
 
The Flyers' win over the Penguins moved them a point over the Panthers, who have a game in hand on Dave Hakstol's club.
 
If the Isles continue at their pace, the Flyers have to amass another 21 of 26 points, or essentially win 10 of their remaining 13 games and get a point with a loss outside regulation play.
 
It's not impossible, but it is highly unlikely. That's what the Flyers are up against, and since they only have one head-to-head meeting left with the Isles, they need help from other teams -- in some cases, teams ahead of them are playing head to head with a chance at a three-point game that hurts them.
 
"It's not over till it's over," Wayne Simmonds said after Wednesday's emotional victory over the Penguins. "We have full faith in here."
 
Sportsclubstats.com, which ranks playoff possibilities, among other things, gives the Flyers a 0.3 percent chance of making the playoffs.
 
The Isles have a 36.6 percent chance.
 
The Flyers choose to ignore those stats. Can they do the seemingly impossible?
 
"Yeah, absolutely," Shayne Gostisbehere said. "The way we played [against Pittsburgh], we didn’t give them much. There's not a lot of room.
 
"Teams don’t want to play against teams like. It’s something we know is in this room. If anyone is gonna do it, it's to be us."

Flyers' wild-card hopes suffer setback with loss to Maple Leafs

Flyers' wild-card hopes suffer setback with loss to Maple Leafs

BOX SCORE

TORONTO – When it's all said and done, if the Flyers don't make the playoffs, they might look back on their 4-2 loss to the Maple Leafs as the game-changer.
 
This is the time of year when players raise their game, raise their intensity and show signs of desperation -- sooner, not later.
 
The Flyers didn't do enough of that Thursday night at Air Canada Centre against a hungrier Leafs squad that now has a four-point lead on them in the wild-card chase (see Instant Replay).

To make matters worse, the wild-card-leading Islanders topped the Canucks in OT late Thursday night, so the Isles now have a five-point cushion on the Flyers.
 
"We had glimpses of it (desperation) all game, but when something happens we responded pretty good and almost came back at the end," Shayne Gostisbehere said.
 
Gostisbehere nearly pulled the game out himself with goal late to make it 3-2 right after goalie Frederik Andersen had made two incredible stops on him and Claude Giroux.
 
"He made a great save there. We had a big play and he came up big for them," Gostisbehere said.
 
Andersen rose to the occasion while Michal Neuvirth did not.
 
After sitting four straight games, Neuvirth was beaten three times from the circle. Although he denied a strong Toronto push early in the third, he didn't deliver the way he has in the past.
 
"Yeah, the first one I was too deep and the third one I didn't see too much," Neuvirth admitted.
 
Flyers coach Dave Hakstol's decision to go with Neuvirth over Steve Mason, who had very poor lifetime numbers against the Leafs, backfired. Mason was on a 3-0-1 run with a 1.45 goals-against average and .954 save percentage.
 
Asked to evaluate Neuvirth, Hakstol paused for a second.
 
"It's that time of year when I thought we needed a save on the first one," Hakstol said of William Nylander's screaming wrister from the right circle on the power play that tied the game at 1-1 in the opening period.
 
"He made some real good saves throughout the game. It was a tough game, a hard-fought game."
 
The Flyers owned the game early, but Mike Babcock's Leafs owned it when it mattered most in the third period. They were the team showing desperation at the start, clutching a 2-1 lead.
 
"It was frustrating," Giroux said. "It wasn't our best game. ... We've got to be better."
 
In a chess game of matchups, Hakstol attempted to get Valtteri Filppula's line head to head against Auston Matthews in this one. The matchups were good. They didn't stop the Flyers from winning.
 
Filppula played a terrific game with an assist and nearly scored late on one of several Andersen scramble saves with the Flyers attacking with an extra skater.
 
Gostisbehere assisted on Wayne Simmonds' power-play goal early.
 
Gostisbehere's shot appeared to hit the underside of the crossbar and go in off Simmonds. But when the puck came out, Simmonds rapped it back inside on Andersen just to make sure.
 
"Ghost and G (Giroux) were playing with it up top and G made a good pass to Ghost. He shot it and I was able to tip it in," Simmonds said.
 
Either way, it was 1-0 at 6:09. Babcock said at the morning skate he was leery of the Flyers' power play and he had reason.
 
Then again, it didn't take Toronto long to tie it with its power-play goal via a wicked wrister from Nylander – his fifth point (three goals) in four games against the Flyers – from the right circle at 13:57.
 
Toronto's other power-play goal, off Mitch Marner's first shot of the night, late in the third was the shot Neuvirth said he never saw.
 
Truth is, the Flyers allowed the Leafs a bit too much ice in the middle during the second period and didn't have enough sustained offensive zone time.
 
"They kind of waited for turnovers and counter attack pretty good," Sean Couturier said. "We played right into their game plan and forced too many plays."
 
Added Giroux, "They're a young team, they're fast and they check well. It took us a while to wake up a bit. When we did, we were fine but we have to be better."
 
 The second period hurt the Flyers.
 
"We need to keep skating," Filppula said. "We turned the puck over too much and we can't do that."
 
All it took for the Leafs to break the tie, however, was a series of mishaps, starting with Michael Del Zotto getting a gift rebound in the slot and putting it right back into Andersen.
 
As the play shifted down the ice, Couturier turned it over to Tyler Bozak in the offensive zone.
 
"The turnover, I thought I had more time and he was right on me," Couturier said. "You saw it, I saw it. Bad play. Whatever."
 
Bozak maneuvered in the circle on Neuvirth, then shot it over his shoulder at 9:28 for a 2-1 lead.
 
A bad goal all-around on a night when the Flyers could ill afford to have it happen.