Wayne Simmonds Preys on Predators in Flyers Victory

Wayne Simmonds Preys on Predators in Flyers Victory

Plenty of great story lines from the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday night, as the Orange and Black pick up their first win coming out of the All Star Break by downing the Nashville Predators 4-1. Ilya Bryzgalov played well for the second consecutive game, Matt Read extended his lead on rookie goal scorers, and Claude Giroux snapped out of his funk, albeit on an empty net.

But like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny Glover before him, Wayne Simmonds took down the Predators, drowning two goals to lead the Flyers, and it wasn't just what showed up on the scoreboard that impressed. Simmonds had 10 shots on goal to pace the entire offense, as he and linemates Brayden Schenn and Zac Rinaldo outworked Nashville all night long -- and in the end, the shot Simmonds didn't take that wound up being one of the plays of the game.

Down 3-1 with under two minutes to go, Nashville pulled their goalie and went to work in Philly's zone. Simmonds eventually wound up with the puck with an opportunity to wing it the length of the ice for an attempt at a hat trick. Not square to the target and surrounded by white jerseys, Simmonds instead made the smart play, simply banking it off the boards and out of the zone rather than risk icing it.

It seems so simple, and maybe it should not be overstated as there really was no other play to be made in that situation. That said, it capped off a brilliant night for one of the key pieces from the Mike Richards trade.

A few moments later, Jaromir Jagr wound up with the disc, and unselfishly handed it off to Giroux, who really needed one to get his stroke back. It was his 19th of the season, but his first in a month, going all the way back to the Winter Classic.

While everybody is happy to see G break the curse, regardless of circumstance, the opportunity only came about thanks to the club's consistent effort in every phase of the game.

After the Flyers caught a few posts early on, Simmonds finally got the scoring started late the first period. Schenn stayed strong on the puck as Mike Fisher harassed him along the sideboards until Simmonds popped out of the corner. Schenn made the exchange as Simmonds skated into the slot, then spun around and snapped the biscuit into the far side of the net as Rinaldo screened Anders Lindback.

The goals were Simmonds's 14th and 15th of the season, which puts him one away from his career high with the Kings in 09-10. Barring major injury, it's safe to say he'll eclipse that total.

While this was by no means an easy win, the entire contest turned out to be a slam dunk. The Flyers established themselves at home with timely goal scoring and solid goaltending, plus had the added bonus of getting their star player back on track. In that sense, they made hockey look easy for one night, earning a very satisfying two points.

Carson Wentz further asserting himself as Eagles' leader in Year 2

Carson Wentz further asserting himself as Eagles' leader in Year 2

It's not like Carson Wentz wasn't a leader last year. 

He was. 

From the moment the No. overall 2 pick arrived at rookie camp in May, those leadership qualities the Eagles discovered during the pre-draft process were immediately on display. Wentz is a natural leader at a position that necessitates it. 

So in his rookie season, he led. 

"I thought that was all kind of natural, things naturally happened," Wentz said. "Yes, I was a rookie but I don't think that I was by any means quiet. I wasn't just the guy that rolled with the punches and went with it. I thought I was still doing my job as a leader as well. But the longer we're playing this game and the more experience we have, the more we can just step up our leadership as well."

If Wentz was a leader in his rookie season, he's really a leader now.  

Last year, he arrived to the Eagles' offseason after the whirlwind of the NFL draft and admitted on Tuesday that he "didn't really know where the locker room was." Hard to lead when you don't know where to get changed. 

And throughout last spring, he was the team's third-string quarterback preparing for a redshirt season until he was thrust into the starting role after the Sam Bradford trade, just a little more than a week before the start of the season. 

A year sometimes makes a huge difference. 

This year, he's the guy, the face of the franchise, the unquestioned leader of the 2017 Philadelphia Eagles. 

"There’s definitely a poise about him," receiver Jordan Matthews said. "You can tell it’s not like last year when he was thrust into the position. He knows his role, he knows he’s the guy, and I think there’s a sense of confidence that comes with that, a sense of poise that he handles extremely well. I’m excited to see what he does this whole offseason and what we’re going to do moving forward."

Wentz is the Eagles' leader on and off the field. He's planning on getting together with his receivers and skills position players again this summer, something he thinks will become an annual trip. 

Earlier this month, Wentz took his offensive linemen out for a day of shooting guns and eating steaks (see story). He bought his entire line shotguns last Christmas. 

It might not seem like a summer get-together or a trigger-happy trip would help the Eagles on the field, but it might. After all, the team's being closer certainly won't hurt. And Wentz, 24, is the guy facilitating all of it. 

Then there's the way Wentz leads on the field. He's always had control of the huddle, but with more time in the offense, he knows what he wants. Center Jason Kelce said the more knowledge Wentz gains of the offense, the "more comfortable (he is) voicing [his] opinion." 

"And I think that he's definitely asserting his style on the offense," Kelce said. 

For the most part, Wentz had a pretty good season as a rookie, flourishing early, hitting a long rough patch, and then finding his way out of it. He ended up throwing for 3,782 yards and set an NFL record for completions as a rookie. 

The Eagles this year, and in the foreseeable future, will go as far as Wentz leads them. 

"They say the biggest jump is from year one to year two, so him just knowing what’s coming, he looks like a vet already," offensive tackle Lane Johnson said. "Pretty extraordinary."

Sir Charles and Shaq made things personal last night and it was fantastic

Sir Charles and Shaq made things personal last night and it was fantastic

Shaq always has the trump card -- and by that we mean championship rings -- to throw in Charles Barkley's face. But with that said, Sir Charles is probably a much better trash talker and therefore has a superior mouth to defend himself with and throw barbs back in Shaq's direction.

The mouthy duo got into it a bit last night and it teetered between fun and lighthearted and a little personal.

Shaq attacks Chuck for only playing in one NBA Finals and therefore not really knowing what he was talking about. Charles claps back at Shaq for having ridden Kobe and Dwyane Wade's coattails. 

During an NBA playoffs that has been mostly boring, at least these two can still entertain us.