“Razor” and the “Wayne Train” rolled into Madison Square Garden Sunday and rolled out with a 4-2 Stanley Cup Playoffs win against the New York Rangers.
Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Ray “Razor” Emery and right wing Wayne “Wayne Train” Simmonds keyed the Flyers victory that tied the best-of-seven series at a game apiece. After surrendering two first period goals to Rangers right wing Martin St. Louis and left wing Benoit Pouliot, Emery played an exceptional game.
He quieted talk about his suspect lateral movement by stopping 31 of 33 shots, including key saves on Rangers rugged forward Rick Nash. Emery, who signed with the Flyers as a free agent during the summer after winning a Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks, played in place of injured Flyers starting goaltender Steve Mason. He earned his first Stanley Cup Playoffs victory win in exactly three years – April 20, 2011 – as a member of the Anaheim Ducks.
Simmonds sealed the Flyers victory with an empty net goal scored in the closing seconds when he gathered the puck deep in the Flyers zone, muscled through two Rangers players while skating the puck out of the zone, and fired it into the vacant Rangers goal from just past the center ice red line.
The victory tied the series at one game apiece. But it also highlighted the importance of Emery and Simmonds to the Flyers. Emery was brought in to compete with Mason for the starter’s job. When the team tabbed Mason as their Number One goalie, Emery settled in as the consummate back-up, the role he had in Chicago which had Corey Crawford between the pipes.
Simmonds played 16 minutes, 27 seconds of snarly, aggressive hockey with lots of work along the boards and in front of Rangers goaltender
Henrik Lundqvist. But his best and perhaps most-difficult scoring chance came with Lundqvist pulled from the net and with the puck deep in the Philadelphia zone.
The empty night goal was another big moment in what’s been a breakout year for Simmonds, who scored 29 goals, 31 assists and collected 106
penalty minutes in 82 games. He led the Flyers in goals. Not bad for a player who wasn’t considered the centerpiece of the 2011 trade that brought him, forward Brayden Schenn and a second-round draft pick from the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for Flyers forward and former captain Mike Richards.
But these days hockey people are talking about Simmonds as one of the National Hockey League’s top power forwards. To Philadelphia fans, the hard-working wing is pure Flyer, especially after he notched Gordie Howe hat tricks – a goal, an assist, and a fight – in February 2013 games against the Pittsburgh Penguins and Winnipeg Jets.
And he’s adding more dimensions to his game, proving he’s more than just a big body player who makes a living scoring close-in goals off rebounds and screens.
“The one area I think he’s improved and he’s starting to establish himself is the Rush game,” Flyers Head Coach Craig Berube told The Los Angeles Times last month. “He’s skating with the puck and doing more things off the rush, a few goals off the rush.”
Sunday’s empty-netter offered a perfect – and timely – example.