PHILADELPHIA -- After establishing career-high regular-season totals across the board in his sixth season, Philadelphia Flyers right wing Wayne Simmonds has struggled to find that offensive form in their Eastern Conference First Round series against the New York Rangers.
It certainly hasn't been for a lack of effort; Simmonds has averaged 2.33 shots and two hits in three games against the Rangers. He has one goal and a minus-2 rating to show for it.
In the regular season, Simmonds averaged 2.54 shots and 1.60 hits on his way to 29 goals and 60 points in 82 games.
When Simmonds is doing what he does best -- working the corners, crashing the crease and creating havoc in front of the opposing goalie -- good things usually happen for the Flyers.
The Rangers limited Simmonds and his linemates, Brayden Schenn and Vincent Lecavalier, to four shots in a 4-1 victory in Game 3 on Tuesday that gave New York a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 series. The Flyers will look to get even in Game 4 on Friday at Wells Fargo Center (7 p.m. ET; CNBC, TSN, RDS, MSG, CSN-PH).
"We can't change our game; if we change our game we will change the identity of our team, and that's not what we're going for here," Simmonds said after practice Friday. "We want to keep the identity of our team and make sure we're playing on the line, but not over the line."
One area of concern for the Flyers entering Game 4 is finding a way to get pucks through on Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist. The Rangers blocked a series-high 28 shots in their Game 3 victory and will look to duplicate that effort in Game 4 in an attempt to slow down the game and frustrate the hometown fans.
Simmonds took one shot, missed the net on five attempts, and had one shot blocked in Game 3. He delivered four hits.
"Sometimes I think it's a good idea to shoot the puck a little bit wide for a stick instead of directly on net and get a little tip in there or use the end boards; that's an option as well," Simmonds said. "But we need to make [Lundqvist] uncomfortable. We have to move it. They go down on one knee and they'll block the initial shot; maybe we need to give them a pump fake. We just have to bear down."
Flyers coach Craig Berube sounded as if he expects his team to adjust to New York's shot-blocking tendencies.
"In general they did a great job of blocking shots last game and you've got to fake some shots, make them go down, move it," Berube said. "The shooters have got to do a better job of just getting it by people. You can't just one-time a puck off a pass against these guys all the time because they're very good at getting in the lanes and blocking it. Maybe it's a step here and there. Just the wrist shot up in the air a little bit and get it through to people at the net."