Simmonds, Couturier open camp on positive note

Wayne Simmonds

VOORHEES, N.J. – Wayne Simmonds played in 75 games last season and was healthy for exactly none of them.

And yet the veteran right wing still managed 24 goals. Not quite his usual 30-goal average, but a game effort nonetheless.

This past summer was all about healing and now he’s hoping to be back from abdominal surgery and other maladies (such as a rebuilt mouth of teeth) to regain his old form.

At Friday’s camp opener at the Skate Zone, Simmonds was in good spirits.

There was a sense of “it can only get better from here.’’

Off the ice, he got married and perhaps moved a bit closer to a new contract extension.

If all the parts are back working again, he should be ready to look like your typical Wayne Simmonds again.

“I feel like my skating is better at this point,’’ he said. “I can practice, take a little bit of contact. Just trying to get my legs back. Didn’t start skating until later in the summer obviously.’’

Simmonds should be able to see some preseason game action toward the latter part of the schedule, possibly on a third line with players such as Jordan Weal and Michael Raffl.

Couturier stretches it out

Sean Couturier (knee) still has another week or so to go before he’s supposed to resume full hockey activities.

But on Friday, Couturier was zipping around the ice pretty well and looking ready to go when he’s given the green light.

“Just trying to get the game shape going,’’ the Flyers’ No. 1 center said. “I’m not (medically) cleared (for contact). I’m not going a hundred percent in battles. I’m getting the feel of them, trying to get in the rhythm and be ready for whenever I’m cleared.’’

Patrick-JVR-Voracek line in place

As expected, the Flyers opened camp with a second line of Nolan Patrick centering James van Riemsdyk (left) and Jake Voracek (right).

If the right chemistry develops, this could be an effective trio.

Patrick and Voracek played a good deal of time together last season. JVR and Voracek were together on the 2011-12 Flyer team, although that’s pretty much ancient history.

Voracek sees some good possibilities.

“We’re probably going to start the season on this line,’’ he said. “It should be fun. Nolan (coming off surgery) looks stronger, faster. He’s a big boy. For us as a team, he’s really important.’’

JVR returns to the Flyers after spending the last six seasons in Toronto. Right now, it’s all about adjusting to new personnel.

“There are going to be some adjustments to make, some different things to get used to,’’ he said. “Today I lined up with some pretty talented players. It’s exciting. We have a chance to work on chemistry through camp moving forward.’’

Patrick came on strong the second half of last season as he completed his recovery from the second of two abdominal surgeries during (and after) the 2016-17 season. This past summer allowed him to regain much of his strength.

“It’s nice to go into a summer without having limitations,’’ Patrick said. “I feel stronger.’’

He sees potential for the line as well.

“I feel comfortable with Jake,’’ he said. “We played together quite a bit last year. Obviously JVR is an unbelievable player. You can tell from one skate, he sees the ice so well. The short passes and the plays he can make. It’s going to be fun to have a chance to play with him.

“I thought we were making some good plays for Day 1. I thought it was about as much chemistry as you could ask from the first day. It felt good.’’

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About Wayne Fish 2443 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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