The Wayne Train appears to be back just in time for the playoffs

Published April 3, 2022 at 5:12 PM
BY BRADLEY CELSIE
Wayne Simmonds is a 14-year NHL veteran. At this point in his career, the Toronto Maple Leafs could likely find 12 more skilled forwards to dress on a nightly basis than Wayne Simmonds. But Simmonds adds an element of toughness that the team otherwise lacks. In order to stay in the lineup, he needs to bring that physicality every night.

Simmonds started the year giving you everything you wanted as a fourth liner. In his first 23 games, Simmonds had three goals and six assists, for a total of nine points. Very respectable for a fourth liner who does not see much in the way of power play time. But since December 4th, Simmonds has six points in 39 games. Additionally, Simmonds had not looked particularly involved physically of late. This ultimately led to Simmonds being a healthy scratch for four of the Leafs' last nine games.

Clearly the Scarborough native got the message. Last Thursday he drew back into the lineup against the Winnipeg Jets, in a grudge match that was expected to be physical. Simmonds did not disappoint. In 7:13 minutes of ice time Simmonds amassed five hits, and was given a ten minute misconduct when it became clear he and Winnipeg Jets forward Adam Lowry were going to fight at a pointless segment of the game. He followed that up with an impressive performance last night against the Philadelphia Flyers. In 7:20 of ice time, he had five hits, a goal and a beat down of Flyers forward Zack MacEwen.




Simmonds doesn't need to fight every night to be effective. But he does need to be physically involved every night to be effective. And sometimes when you are involved, playing a style Wayne Simmonds plays, fights will organically happen. For Simmonds, dropping the gloves is a symptom of his physical involvement and at times, his good play.

In my opinion, for Simmonds to stay in the lineup he needs to finish every check, stand up for teammates and chip in offensively, even if it's just an assist here and there, every three or four games.
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