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Flyers 5, Sabres 2: Ryan Hartman really wants you to like him

I still miss Wayne Simmonds.

NHL: Buffalo Sabres at Philadelphia Flyers Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Hey guys, it’s me, or the hollowed-out husk of the person I used to be. Is any of this worth it without Wayne Simmonds? Be honest. Does any of this matter?

The Flyers won tonight, and it made me happy, until I remembered the whole thing about Wayne Simmonds, and now I’m sad again. Please allow me some time to mourn.

The Flyers started off right away looking pretty competent, which is always something worth noting when it happens. The first line had a fantastic first shift, and Nolan Patrick wasted no time in drawing a penalty just 36 seconds in. Absolutely get wrecked, Buffalo, you are nothing to us.

This is the first power play I can remember that I’ve not seen Wayne Simmonds on, and yes, I am inconsolable and would like to not talk about it ever. I am too fragile. I am too delicate. For the foreseeable future, everyone will need to speak softly around me and walk on eggshells. Thanks.

Although they failed to score on this opportunity, it would end up not really mattering much in the end. A mere few moments after the power play ended, my good friend Oskar Lindblom did what needed to be done and put a puck in right from the doorstep at 2:48. You know who else liked to do that? Oh man. I’m sorry.

Ryan Hartman clearly wanted to make an endearing first impression on the crowd at the Wells Fargo Center. Perhaps he knows what we are thinking, which is that there is no sunshine without Wayne, and everything is bleak and horrible, and today we all woke up and had a blissful few moments where we were able to forget that he is gone, and then it all came rushing back, and we laid in the dark for what felt like hours just staring at the ceiling, reflecting.

Or I am simply projecting. Regardless: not the point. Hartman knew the crowd was missing a physical forward, and he delivered in the form of a monstrous hit on Rasmus Dahlin that drew the ire of the rest of the Sabres. It’s admirable. Like a male bird of paradise flashing his pretty colors and performing an elaborate dance, except instead of a potential mate, it’s a stadium full of Philadelphians.

This would end up actually drawing a penalty, which is cool. The Flyers would go to the power play once again at 4:27. I’ll skip the boring part of this, which is that it wasn’t really good, and no one scored on it. Maybe they should fix that. Who am I to say, though.

It’s cool that the Flyers can’t really score on the power play with any kind of consistency, but at least they are able to do it at even-strength. A strong effort from Phil Myers would pay off as he was able to get the puck into a dangerous area, where Jake Voracek was able to hammer it home after a flurry of activity at the net. This goal at 7:52 put the Flyers up by two and tallied Myers his first NHL point, long overdue.

Nothing good can last, obviously. Scott Laughton would soon go to the box for hooking at 11:39, and it is almost as if the man advantage can be a positive thing if the team in question has a competent power play. Truly mind-blowing stuff. Jack Eichel did what he often likes to do, which is look pretty good offensively, if a little homely in the facial area, and scored a goal at 12:08. I didn’t like it, but God doesn’t care about what I like, does he? Does he?

Let’s go ahead and give them another power play. Why not? Michael Raffl went off for tripping at 13:43. The Sabres put forth a nice effort, but couldn’t get it done, which is perfectly fine by me, Emily Quast.

With only 50 seconds left to go, a pair of matching minors would go to Nolan Patrick and Rasmus Ristolainen, for slashing and high-sticking respectively. The period ended with a bunch of rather inconsequential 4-on-4 hockey.

I miss Wayne Simmonds.

AFTER ONE: 2-1 Flyers, shots 19-6 Flyers; Flyers goals scored by Oskar Lindblom (2:48) and Jake Voracek (7:52), Sabres goal scored by Jack Eichel (12:08)

Wouldn’t it be swell if the Flyers could put together a bit of a repeat of the first period where they came out looking pretty good right away? Well, they didn’t do that. That would’ve been too much fun for me. I would have enjoyed it far too heartily and they could not possibly allow that. Almost immediately after the return to even-strength 5-on-5, the Flyers took a too many men penalty at 1:12, and I felt impossibly tired, like a weight had begun to press down on my shoulders.

Thankfully for my sanity, the Sabres could not score here. Our penalty kill used to be very bad, and it is not so bad anymore. That bodes well for the future. Our future without Wayne Simmonds. Oh God.

The Flyers did not look very good in the first chunk of the second, and I guess that is fine, but I wish I was not the one witnessing it. Brian Elliott did a stellar job keeping the boys within one, as there were several moments where the tie goal looked inevitable.

Does anyone else miss Wayne Simmonds? Sometimes it’s like I can still feel his presence, you know?

Just around the point I was about to start calling this period boring, the Flyers made a damn fool out of me, as they are wont to do. A textbook redirection by James van Riemsdyk on Robert Hagg’s shot from his spot parked in front of the net would put the Flyers up by two once again at 15:13. Scoring goals, it seems, is fun, and we should do it more often.

We should also stop letting in goals from other teams. That is just my opinion, and it is heavily influenced by the fact that Casey Mittelstadt got one in at 17:53, not too long after we cushioned our lead. Is this really fair to me? Although Shayne Gostisbehere couldn’t handle this at the blue line, frankly it’s the speed of this guy that was the real culprit on the goal; there really wasn’t much, if anything, that could be done to catch him once he started going.

Once again, we would get some 4-on-4 hockey to close out the period, this time courtesy to an interference call on Jake McCabe and a consequential embellishment penalty on Hartman at 19:39. Guess he’s not really a good actor. I wonder if Wayne Si—

AFTER TWO: 3-2 Flyers, shots 30-22 Flyers; Flyers goal scored by James van Riemsdyk (15:13), Sabres goal scored by Casey Mittelstadt (17:53)

When you’re entering into the third period up by just one goal, you really have to imagine that the most important thing is to come out strong, find a way to extend your lead, and—

Yeah, just like that, folks. A slick pass by Sean Couturier got right to Travis Sanheim, who took advantage of an accidental-screening by Eichel on his own goaltender and got one in on Carter Hutton. Only 47 seconds in, and we’re back up by two again. That’s good stuff.

I have to give a nod here to the way Elliott has been playing all night. Both of the goals against were the type that he really couldn’t have done much to thwart, and when he was forced to come up big, he delivered pretty readily. I’m not of the belief that he is a long-term option in net for the Flyers, if only because of the obvious looming presence of Carter Hart, but he has been nothing but sharp since returning from his conditioning stint, and this game is no exception.

The Flyers were able to come up with a lot offensive energy in the third, doing well not to turtle with the lead like they’ve done in the past. They looked pretty aggressive all night. I miss Wayne Simmonds, though.

With about three minutes left in the game, the Sabres brought Hutton to the bench for an extra attacker. A bold move with a not-insignificant amount of time left. Let’s see if it pays off.

Ah, that will be a no. Seven seconds after the net emptied, the Sabres lost possession of the puck and unfortunately for them, the closest orange sweater was Claude Giroux, who rules beyond belief in case you weren’t aware. His shot from a distance had a pretty clear trajectory. You just hate to see that. The Flyers added more padding to their lead at 17:05, and that’ll do it.

Anyone else out here just thinking about Wayne Simmonds?

AFTER THREE: 5-2 Flyers, shots 44-35 Flyers; Flyers goals scored by Travis Sanheim (0:46) and Claude Giroux (17:05)