VOORHEES, N.J. – Wayne Simmonds’ return to the Flyers lineup couldn’t come at a better time.
Strapped with a three-game winless (0-2-1) streak and faced with a pair of toughies (Pittsburgh, Boston) the next two nights, getting a 20-goal scorer back certainly can’t hurt the Flyers’ mood.
Simmonds has had to sit a couple weeks with an upper-body injury but plans on being back to rejoin a third line of Valtteri Filppula and Jordan Weal.
It might be just what Weal needs to get his game back on track. He’s been struggling big time as of late.
The Flyers can use some offensive production from their secondary lines. Much of the scoring has been maintained by the first two lines.
“We (Simmonds-Filppula-Weal) played together last year and we did well,’’ Simmonds said after Tuesday’s practice at the Skate Zone. “We played earlier this year but we didn’t play with each other too long. We need to have a solid third line, I think, obviously to spread things out and help alleviate the pressure off the top two.
“We just need to have a more balanced team and that will help going into the playoffs fresh.”
Simmonds should also help a power play which has done OK with rookie Nolan Patrick at the trigger spot but could improve at clutch moments.
But even strength is where the rejoined line needs to perform at its best.
“We’ve got to get back to what we were doing, when we were going well last year,” Simmonds said. “We’ve got to find that chemistry quickly and that comes with communication.”
Simmonds said he’s almost back to full strength.
“I don’t know, we’ll see, but I feel good,’’ he said. “Skating, shooting, passing, everything like that, I feel good. I’m just looking to come into the lineup tomorrow night and make an impact.”
Coach Dave Hakstol looks for his team to get back on track as the schedule continues to get tougher.
Having Simmonds back should help the cause.
“He’s a big part of our team,’’ Hakstol said. “He looked good. I believe he’s ready to go. It will be nice to have him back in our lineup.
“I think it’s about having all four lines that make sense and all four having some chemistry. That (Simmonds-Weal-Filppula) has played together quite a bit, a lot of success at the end of last year and eight games this year.’’
Weal should get a little more space to operate with Simmonds on the ice.
“That group is real familiar with each other,’’ Hakstol said. “It gives us four lines that we’re real confident with. It’s a line that can play 200 feet, play hard. And always be a threat offensively.’’
The Flyers want to get back to the form which let them go 10-0-2 at one stretch in February. Some bad habits creeped in, even before the streak ended.
“I think being bluntly honest where when you go through a stretch where you don’t lose a game, you see little signs along the way,’’ he said. “I think we saw a little bit of that slide in.
“We really did a really good job through that (winning stretch). But I loved the intensity we had in Tampa (a 7-6