December 13, 2011
WASHINGTON, DC — The Philadelphia Flyers' visit to the Washington Capitals could have been a depressing evening for Wayne Simmonds. His inadvertent knee to the head of Claude Giroux on Saturday night put the Flyers' leading scorer out indefinitely with a concussion.
"G's our best player. We all know that," said Simmonds. "But we're not a one-man team. We're a complete team."
Down both Giroux and captain Chris Pronger, the rest of the Eastern Conference was hoping to see some vulnerability from the first-place Flyers. Instead, the Flyers played what Coach Peter Laviolette called perhaps their most complete effort of the season: a 5-1 rout of the Capitals, getting goals from five different players.
"I wasn't really confident about today's game when we lost G," said Flyers winger Jaromir Jagr, who picked up an assist on Scott Hartnell's opening goal. "We lost the best player in the League. It's not easy to play without him."
Jagr and Hartnell skated with rookie Sean Couturier on the top line; he played well, but the line didn't look as dominant without Giroux. Picking up the slack: Marc-Andre Bourdon, who scored his first NHL goal; Simmonds, who made it 3-0 in the second period and skated well with Matt Read and Danny Briere; Max Talbot, who scored his eighth; and Jakub Voracek, who tallied in the third to send Capitals fans to the exits. James van Riemsdyk had two assists.
It was the Flyers at their deepest offensively and Ilya Bryzgalov (31 saves) at his steadiest, controlling play and frustrating the Caps.
"I thought it was one of our better team games, start to finish," said Laviolette.
As for the Capitals … well, it was not one of their better games. Goalie Tomas Vokoun was chased after giving up four goals on 21 shots, two of which were quite soft.
"We did a terrible job making any attempt to make plays to get the puck out," said center Jeff Halpern, who scored their only goal. "They're a good team. You can't give them free chances."
The Flyers moved to 41 points on the season, keeping two ahead of Boston for the conference lead.
They also moved to 1-0 minus Claude Giroux — a victory that made Simmonds feel even more relieved than when Giroux exonerated him for the injury.
"It's a bit of a downer to injure your best player. But I talked to G and he told me, 'Don't worry about it. It's just a hockey play.' For him to say that to me, it makes it a little bit easier," said Simmonds.