Wayne Simmonds is a veteran of all of a dozen playoff games. He’s a confident player and thought he was ready for postseason play — but once you step on the ice in the playoffs, things change.
“My first year, I didn’t really realize what was going on,” Simmonds said. “It takes you a couple minutes. You get hit, or you hit somebody, and it gets you into the game. They’ll figure it out really quick.”
The 28-goal scorer is referring to the 12 rookies that have suited up for the Flyers this season. The Flyers had the most rookie games played (445) and points from rookies (129). After Mike Richards and Jeff Carter left, the Flyers became a team powered by youth and spent all season proving why that isn’t a bad thing.
“I’ve said this before — they are rookies, but that’s not how they’re viewed,” said coach Peter Laviolette. “These are guys that we’re counting on. This whole year has been in preparation to get them ready for the playoffs. They’ve done a terrific job all season in helping us make the playoffs and be a successful team in the league.”
Sean Couturier spent the last quarter of the season being groomed as the shut-down center, in charge of the opponent’s top line. Matt Read had the most goals (24) of any rookie in the NHL, plays in all situations and may just win the Calder Trophy.
“I think people didn’t really know what to expect from us this year and I think we’ve shown that we have some character and a good team here,” Couturier said. “In the playoffs, we’ve just gotta keep playing the same way and be prepared and hopefully things keep going well.”
Time to shine
The Flyers have six rookies making their playoff debuts. Meanwhile, the Pens have 11 guys that were on their 2009 Cup-winning team.
Defenseman Marc-Andre Bourdon played 45 games.
Wingers Eric Wellwood (24 games, 9 points), Harry Zolnierczyk (37, 6 points) and Matt Read (79, 47 points).
Centers Brayden Schenn (54, 18 points) and Sean Couturier (77, 27 points).