Flyers Skate Update: ‘Extremely Good Chance' 5-on-5

WASHINGTON - Wayne Simmonds liked a lot about Game 4.

The Flyers won, of course, but more than just that.

Simmonds was an advocate of how the 2-1 win was leniently officiated, allowing the eighth-seeded Flyers to play more five-on-five, which for them bodes well - and maybe even works in their favor - against the top-seeded Capitals.

The Flyers went to the box just twice, learning how to best combat high-powered Washington (see story).

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They hope Friday night's Game 5 of their best-of-seven first-round playoff series with the Capitals plays the same way (see game notes). If it does, the Flyers like their chances of chopping into a 3-1 series deficit and forcing a Game 6 in Philadelphia.

"I thought we've done a really good job, we haven't allowed too much against," Simmonds said of the Flyers' even-strength play. "It's been when we get into the box is when we get into trouble with them scoring goals. I feel like if we can hold it to five-on-five and limit the penalties we're taking, we have an extremely good chance of winning this game tonight."

The Flyers allowed the Capitals six power plays in Game 1 and nine in Game 3, creating a hefty 8-1 goal differential over those two games in favor of Washington.

In Game 4, the Flyers held the Capitals without a man-advantage marker for the first time all series.

A cleaner, more disciplined approach?

"I don't know, the refs didn't call as much," Simmonds said after morning skate at the Verizon Center. "To be honest with you, I think they let a lot of things go on both teams and I think that's the way playoff hockey should be."

If anything, it behooves the Flyers. In the series, Washington has just a two-goal lead, 5-3, in even-strength scoring. The Flyers can't afford to give 70-point scorers Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Nicklas Backstrom an advantage.

"Make sure we're staying out of the box," Simmonds said. "I think that's really key for us to stay out of the box. They've got a heck of a power play over there. We stay out of the box, I think we should be pretty good here."

Gettin' dirty?
Washington head coach Barry Trotz on Wednesday said the Capitals have sent two plays to the NHL on which they believe the Flyers were taking dirty shots at their players.

One was by Brayden Schenn in Game 4, the other from Simmonds in Game 2.

"That's twice," Trotz said, via CSNMidAtlantic. "There was a Simmonds one earlier in the series that was brought up to the league. Once is maybe a coincidence, twice is not."

Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol was asked Thursday if he was wary of Game 5 being called tighter now because of it.

"No, I'm not too worried," Hakstol said. "We'll always listen if the league brings something to us. We take a lot of pride in playing the game the right way and playing hard. You guys know it by now, I'm not getting involved in any of that stuff. We're going to evaluate ourselves and make sure we're doing things the right way and, most importantly, playing the way that we need to play to be successful in the series."

Line tweaks
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare slides back into the lineup on his usual fourth-line spot after missing Game 4 because of a suspension (see story).

With the injury to Scott Laughton, that bumps Colin McDonald up to the third line after he made a nice impact in Game 4, his first of the series.

"I watched him one shift [Wednesday] night, I think he hit like five guys," Simmonds said. "It's pretty impressive he just kept on trucking."

Motivation from Snider
The Flyers took much away from the celebration of Ed Snider's life on Thursday afternoon at the Wells Fargo Center (see story).

"There was nothing like coming in after a game and having your owner come shake your hand and tell you you did a good job," Ryan White said. "No matter how much money you make, you have the satisfaction of the guy you're trying to please come in after a game when you're sweating and bleeding, and shake your hand like a man. That's pretty special. Just the way he carried himself around the team. He loved the Flyers and he bled orange. It was pretty special [Thursday]."

At the ceremony, Snider's son, Jay, had a message for the series on behalf of the Flyers.

"To the Caps fans, anyone who may be watching on the live stream - we're not done," Jay Snider said.

Simmonds liked it.

"We're not done yet, yeah," he said. "We've been a really resilient bunch all year long and that's never going to change, that's just the makeup of our team."

Projected lineup

Forwards
Brayden Schenn-Claude Giroux-Wayne Simmonds

Jakub Voracek-Michael Raffl-Sam Gagner

Matt Read-Nick Cousins-Colin McDonald

Chris VandeVelde-Pierre-Edouard Bellemare-Ryan White

Defensemen
Mark Streit-Nick Schultz

Shayne Gostisbehere-Andrew MacDonald

Brandon Manning-Radko Gudas

Goalies
Michal Neuvirth
Steve Mason

Injured
Sean Couturier (upper body), Scott Laughton (unspecified)

Scratches
Evgeny Medvedev, Jordan Weal, R.J. Umberger, Cole Bardreau, Chris Conner, Taylor Leier, Mark Alt, Davis Drewiske, Robert Hagg, Samuel Morin, Anthony Stolarz

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