Wayne Simmonds

Predators’ Boyle, Simmonds out ‘week-to-week’

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Hours before their Game 3 matchup against the Dallas Stars (9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN; Live stream) the Nashville Predators announced that both Brian Boyle and Wayne Simmonds are considered “week-to-week” with separate ailments.

Boyle, who missed Game 2 due to “illness,” had an appendix procedure, while Simmonds, who only has one goal for the Predators since being acquired just before the February NHL trade deadline, is out with a lower-body injury.

Simmonds left Game 2 in the first period after taking a Roman Josi shot to the knee. After coming back to the ice to test out his leg during a timeout, he retreated back to the dressing room and did not return. Miikka Salomaki, who hasn’t played for the Predators since Jan. 4, is expected to take his place on the fourth line with Rocco Grimaldi and Calle Jarnkrok.

[NBC 2019 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

Both players were acquired in February as Predators general manager David Poile looked to strengthen his team’s bottom six. Two experienced veteran forwards, Boyle and Simmonds gave even more balance to a roster that looks to make another deep run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs this spring.

But with the Predators using the phrase “week-to-week,” especially this time of year when team’s are even more reluctant to say anything about injuries, is not good for either player.

MORE: ‘Grind’ games likely to continue as Predators-Stars series shifts to Dallas

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Predators’ power play headaches linger into playoffs

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War, war never changes. To Nashville Predators forward Craig Smith, the same can be said for the team’s power play lately.

“I’m frustrated, we’re all frustrated. It pisses me off,” Smith said, according to News Channel 5’s Jonathan Burton. “We’ve been doing the same thing for years; nothing changes.”

The Predators finished the regular season with the worst power play in the NHL, and that problem reared its ugly head during their Game 1 loss to the Dallas Stars, as that unit went 0-for-4. The Stars, meanwhile, went 1-for-3 in snagging a tight 3-2 victory. (Game 2 takes place at 6 p.m. ET on Saturday on CNBC [livestream])

Heading into the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Smith and other Predators players remained all-too-aware of these power-play struggles … maybe too aware?

“I think it’s a mindset to go out there,” Smith said heading into Round 1, according to NHL.com’s Robby Stanley. “Sometimes you have to play it like it’s 5-on-5. I think that’s definitely a crucial part of it too, retrieving pucks and getting back and supporting one another, because you’ve got to find the 2-on-1 somewhere. We’ve worked hard at it and watched a lot of video.”

[NBC 2019 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

Whenever a team’s power play is struggling, I tend to look to three things:

1. Is that team just having bad luck?

It’s just about certain that this plays at least part of the role for the Predators. Still, this bleeds into the next point.

2. Are the wrong players shooting, particularly too many defensemen?

They managed a respectable four shots on goal during those four power plays, although the shooters were a mix of defensemen (P.K. Subban and Ryan Ellis) and maybe not the ideal forwards you’d want firing the puck (Brian Boyle and Kyle Turris). After generating 34 goals despite being limited to 58 games played, Viktor Arvidsson didn’t even have a missed shot on the PP.

Too many point shots is one of those issues that seems all too obvious with power plays dealing with deeper-seated issues than a mere cold streak. In Nashville, you’d figure there’s a political element. After all, you want to keep your star defensemen happy. Either way, you’d want Forsberg, Arvidsson, and Ryan Johansen firing more shots.

3. Are the Predators making the right personnel choices?

Identifying the power play as a problem, GM David Poile brought in a big net-front presence in Brian Boyle (who was also sought after for his defensive acumen) and Wayne Simmonds (a player well-known for his resume of power-play prowess, though that’s faded recently).

There have been signs of at least mild improvement by Nashville’s power play in the last month or so, but allow me to get back on my soapbox and wonder if what the Predators’ PP really needs is Eeli Tolvanen.

Even if the young forward can’t earn Peter Laviolette’s trust at even-strength, you could easily fit Tolvanen into a role as a power-play specialist and hide him lower in the order otherwise. The Stars aren’t exactly the league’s deepest team, so Tolvanen’s skill could also create dividends if Laviolette decided to take the very mild risk of inserting the 30th pick of the 2017 NHL Draft.

In particular, Forsberg and Arvidsson can be threats in these situations, yet for all that the Predators possess, they could really use a/another true sniper whose shot is simply a weapon.

That’s especially true since Ben Bishop has been one of the best goalies in the NHL this season, and considering his enormous frame, it might take next level shooting skills to beat him on some nights. You can quibble with Tolvanen’s all-around game, but few would doubt his shot.

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One way or another, the Predators need to find answers as the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs go along. Maybe they can grind out a Round 1 series win against a generally low-scoring Stars team, but maybe not, as special teams might just move the needle. Beyond Dallas, the Predators would have to really dominate on 5-on-5 to beat the cream of the crop, if they can’t at least scrounge up respectable special teams.

And that might require not “doing the same thing for years.”

Stars-Predators Game 2 from Bridgestone Arena will be Saturday night at 6:00 p.m. ET on CNBC (livestream).

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Predators go bold at trade deadline with Simmonds, Granlund

The Nashville Predators weren’t able to land Mark Stone or Artemi Panarin, but don’t accuse them of sitting idly by at the trade deadline.

After landing Mikael Granlund for Kevin Fiala, the Predators reeled in one of the biggest fish by acquiring Wayne Simmonds. The Athletic’s Craig Custance and others report these terms, which seem very reasonable for Nashville:

Predators receive: Wayne Simmonds.

Flyers get: Ryan Hartman, conditional 2020 fourth-round pick.

That 2020 fourth-rounder would turn into a third-rounder if the Predators win a playoff round.

[An in-depth look at that fascinating Fiala – Granlund deal.]

Simmonds slipping?

It’s been mentioned, and it’s quite accurate, that Simmonds isn’t quite the all-around threat he once was during his peak as a scoring power forward. In particular, he hasn’t been much of a play-driver for a while, and some of that high-level power play scoring has dried up, too.

Simmonds currently has 16 goals and 27 points in 62 games. Not awful, but not quite where he’s been before.

Yet, for this reasonable price? At worst, he gives the Predators a winger who can score a bit, and mix it up physically. At best, he’ll rekindle his scoring touch and boost Nashville’s mediocre power play, while being invigorated by playing for a contender.

After Saturday’s 5-4 comeback OT win against the Penguins, Simmonds’ Flyers teammates said goodbye with this touching gesture:

Overall, Simmonds ideally would give the Predators a boost on the power play, and provide that snarl. Also, Granlund + Simmonds are being brought in to help a second line that was dragging Nashville down. It will be interesting to see where Kyle Turris, Brian Boyle, and Nick Bonino land in the lineup after these changes.

Quick look at Hartman

Hartman, 24, is a pending RFA.

[Winners and losers of the 2019 NHL Trade Deadline]

The Blackhawks made him the 30th pick of the 2013 NHL Draft, and the Predators included their 2018 first-rounder in the package to land Hartman last deadline.

He’s only been averaging 13:26 TOI per night, so his 20 points in 64 games isn’t half-bad. Hartman brings some snarl to the table, which will endear him to Flyers fans.

Is he much of a difference-maker? Not really, and Flyers fans will wonder if there was any chance to get Eeli Tolvanen in this deal, instead. It’s tough not to be disappointed by Philly’s takeaway for such a beloved player, but how do you think? Is Hartman a decent enough takeaway?

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Simmonds ‘savors’ potential final game with Flyers

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PHILADELPHIA — Listening to Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek speak about Wayne Simmonds following their 4-3 overtime win in Saturday’s Stadium Series game, you could tell just how much the rumors of the veteran forward’s likely departure by Monday’s NHL trade deadline has affected them.

“He’s one of my best friends, so it’s been kind of stressful for me as well,” Voracek said. “It’s something we cannot change in the locker room and he knows it. He’s been a warrior throughout last year, this year. Whatever happens, it’s either going to be tough or good. He’s been amazing. He’s been a good friend of mine and we’ll see what’s going to happen.”

The team’s postgame MVP award — a helmet acquired during a preseason team-bonding trip in Vail, Colorado — went to Simmonds following their dramatic come-from-behind win over the Pittsburgh Penguins Saturday night at Lincoln Financial Field. It was an emotional victory and an emotional postgame scene in the dressing room.

“Pretty special. Got a little bit choked up,” Simmonds said of being awarded the helmet. “I’ve known those guys [Giroux and Voracek] for so long. Even before I came to Philadelphia I knew Jake and G, so it’s pretty special getting it from those guys.”

Simmonds can be an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and with the Flyers’ playoff hopes on thin ice, general manager Chuck Fletcher will likely deal the 30-year-old as he reshapes the roster he inherited from Ron Hextall.

Despite all the rumors the last few weeks, Simmonds has done his best to block out the noise.

“Don’t watch TSN, Sportsnet, Twitter, Instagram, any of those things,” he said. “It’s obviously tough not to see, but I always try to be a professional. I’m never going to quit on anything. I’ll play right to the very end. Hopefully I’m here still come Monday, but if not, it is what it is. I’m happy with what I’ve done for this city. I can truly say that I’m grateful for everything that I’ve gotten here.”

While more trades will likely come down on Sunday, Simmonds won’t be glued to his television or his phone checking for updates. It’s an off day and he has plans to spend the day with friends who are in town, savoring the Flyers’ first outdoor game victory.

“You savor it a little bit more. This has been my home,” he said. “I live in Toronto in the offseason and then I’m in Philadelphia. I consider myself a part of this community. It was special being out there and getting the two points tonight.”

Relief will come by Monday afternoon when the questions will finally be answered and Simmonds will know where he’ll be playing the final few months of the 2018-19 season. It’s not just hockey that’s been on his mind either. His wife, Crystal, is six and a half months pregnant, so knowing where they’ll deliver their baby is something they’re eager to find out.

Simmonds and Voracek joined the Flyers in separate trades in June 2011 and have developed a close friendship. Giroux had been a Flyer for a few seasons before Simmonds’ arrival, but the trio quickly became a strong core ever since. 

That core will likely be missing a piece in a few days time.

“It’s a tough situation. You just don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Giroux. “He’s been an ultimate warrior. He’s been the best teammate all these years. It’s not something we can control, so it’s definitely frustrating a little bit. We’ve all been here for a long time. We understand the business of it, but it doesn’t mean we have to like it.

“There’s not enough good words I can say about Wayne Simmonds.”

MORE: Flyers hand Penguins agonizing defeat at Stadium Series

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

NHL on NBC: Simmonds’ mind on helping Flyers, not NHL trade deadline

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NBC’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with Saturday’s Stadium Series matchup between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers from Lincoln Financial Field. Coverage begins at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

PHILADELPHIA — Saturday night could be more than just Wayne Simmonds‘ third NHL outdoor game experience. It could be his final night in a Philadelphia Flyers’ jersey.

As Monday’s trade deadline approaches, the 30-year-old pending unrestricted free agent could be on the move to any number of teams looking for some power play help and a big body up front. There have been links to the Boston Bruins, Nashville Predators, and Winnipeg Jets, among others. 

There was a thought entering this season that Simmonds and the Flyers could work out an extension, but former general manager Ron Hextall was unable to, and right now it doesn’t appear as if new GM Chuck Fletcher has interest in re-signing him. As the team’s playoff hopes took a major hit this week with losses to Tampa Bay and Montreal, dealing away a pending UFA for futures is likely the preferred move here.

What jersey he’ll be wearing after 3 p.m. ET on Monday isn’t any concern for Simmonds right now, however. He’s keeping his focus on the Stadium Series game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

[WATCH LIVE – COVERAGE BEGINS AT 8 P.M. ET – NBC]

“It could be a possibility [it’s his last game] but I think up until this point I just try to go about my business as normally as possible,” Simmonds said after the Flyers’ Friday practice at Lincoln Financial Field. “I’m going to be thinking about winning the game, not if it’s my last game or not with the Flyers.”

Simmonds came to the Flyers in the 2011 blockbuster trade that sent Flyers captain Mike Richards to the Los Angeles Kings. In eight seasons in Philadelphia he’s scored 203 goals and recorded 378 points, all while becoming a heart and soul player for the franchise. 

Given the transition phase the team is in right now and Fletcher’s desire to reshape the roster to his liking, Simmonds’ value on the trade market will aid the GM in his plans. 

Even if it’s his last game in the orange and black, Simmonds is still cemented in thought about the playoff chase the Flyers find themselves in for now.

“We have points to get to get back into this playoff race,” he said. “That’s all my brain is processing right now. The other stuff is what it is. All I can control is I’m a Philadelphia Flyer right now and I’ve got to prepare for a game [Saturday.]”

MORE 2019 STADIUM SERIES:
Penguins ready to enjoy Stadium Series, but focus is on two points
Why Scott Gordon chose Elliott over Hart for Stadium Series start
Rain could be an issue for Penguins-Flyers Stadium Series game
2019 Stadium Series by the numbers
Scott Hartnell Q&A

Six-time Emmy Award-winner Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick (play-by-play), U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame member Eddie Olczyk (analyst), and Emmy Award-winner Pierre McGuire (‘Inside-the-Glass’ analyst) will have the call from Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pa. Liam McHugh will anchor studio coverage on-site in Philadelphia alongside Mike Milbury, Keith Jones, and Jeremy Roenick.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.