Performance of Flyers’ veteran stars under scrutiny

Wayne Simmonds

When the Flyers pack their bags on Tuesday and head home for the summer, no doubt they will hear about the production of their veteran star players as they head out the door.

The numbers in recent postseason play have been rather dismal.

Claude Giroux: 1 goal in 13 games.

Wayne Simmonds: No goals in 13 games.

Jake Voracek: No goals in 10 games.

True, the Penguins did a nice checking job on these three Flyers core players.

But at some point, especially on the power play, there has to be some sort of breakthrough.

It’s been alluded to over and over again but bears repeating: Voracek admitted exactly one year ago that if the core veteran group continued to fail, changes might be in the wind.

Of course, both Giroux and Voracek are locked into virtually untradeable contracts: Both halfway through eight-year, $66-million deals.

Simmonds, 29, has one year left on a deal which will pay him $5 million next season. He would appear to be the most expendable of the bunch.

Coach Dave Hakstol made reference to his “big guys’’ after Sunday’s 8-5 elimination loss to Pittsburgh but sort of gave them a pass by saying the burden of this disappointment should be shared by the whole team.

“Your big guys got to go out and do the job,’’ Hakstol said. “That’s the reality. But we talked all year how everyone is expected to go out and do a job and help push for the right result so that’s why I say could we have played better as a team, yes, and think if we had been able to be a little more complete today, we would have had a real good opportunity to travel to Pittsburgh for game 7.’’

Simmonds could be given a bit of a pass for his failings because he’s been playing hurt for much of the past few months.

He has a bum shoulder and also lost a bunch of teeth. He wasn’t making excuses but no doubt he wasn’t himself.

In fact, before the regular season ended he lost his spot as the jammer on the top power-play unit to rookie Nolan Patrick.

Asked if he might need postseason surgery, Simmonds just shook his head. He’s probably going to leave any announcements to general manager Ron Hextall.

“If I couldn’t play, I wouldn’t have played obviously,’’ he said. “ You’ll find out later.’’

Giroux was frowning throughout his post-game interview. He’s past 30 now and while there should be a number of excellent seasons ahead, star players know you only get so many kicks at the Stanley Cup can.

“Not good enough,’’ he said of his one goal in six games against the Penguins. “Gotta find a way, when you play against the best players on the other side, gotta step up your game and play better. Only word I can say is that it’s frustrating. We’re gonna keep building here and we’re gonna come off strong next year.’’

About Wayne Fish 1112 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.

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