MONTREAL - On Wednesday morning, Flyers coach Peter Laviolette gathered his team for an impromptu video session. The lesson, which has been repeated throughout the course of the season for consistency, was simple.
"We wanted to just keep hammering it home," Laviolette said. "We want everyone to know what it is that we are looking for, where to be, where to go on the ice."
The words have resonated with no Flyer more than Wayne Simmonds. Once the Flyers' early-season disappointment, Simmonds has become the team's hottest player over the last 2 weeks.
As the Flyers seek to replace the offense of injured Claude Giroux, Simmonds has answered the bell playing alongside Danny Briere.
Last night, Simmonds pushed his career-high goal-scoring streak to four games, as the Flyers rolled to their seventh straight win, 4-3, over the Canadiens. It was the first win in the streak with Sergei Bobrovsky in the net. Also it is the Flyers' first seven-game winning streak since January 2002. With the win, the Flyers maintained their two-point lead in the Eastern Conference.
In Montreal, the Flyers needed four separate one-goal leads to nab their 12th road win.
"We're a resilient bunch," Simmonds said. "When we dig ourselves holes like that, we know what we have to do to get back in games. We have a never-say-die attitude."
Simmonds said his hot streak is a nice change of pace, as it comes on the heels of a seven-game stretch without a single point.
"I wasn't getting any breaks earlier in the year," he said. "I've just tried to stick to my game and do the little things in front of the net, things that I'm good at. Pucks are starting to bounce my way. It feels really good."
Laviolette said he was never concerned about Simmonds' place in the lineup. Even without the points, Simmonds remained a force in front of the net - sometimes with players that paid dividends for teammates that went unnoticed on his own stat sheet.
Although Simmonds has played 30 games under Laviolette since arriving from Los Angeles in the Mike Richards trade, there are nuances of his system he's just starting to grasp.
"There is a method to the madness of what is going on in the offensive zone," Laviolette said. "If you're not used to it, you've got to get used to it."
For Briere, the biggest telltale sign that Simmonds is getting comfortable is his play at even strength. On the power play, Simmonds' job was simply required to park himself in front of the opposing goalie.
"He goes to the front of the net and creates havoc," Briere said. "But five-on-five, it took a little bit of an adjustment. It was there. It was just a matter of time. For him and I, having a chance to play together and stick together, we're having a chance to read off of each other. I now know where he likes to play, where he likes to hang out. I think that's why both of us have seemed to click."
Briere's observation is the same for linemate Jakub Voracek, who Laviolette also said has "spread his wings."It's no surprise, then, that the Flyers have continued to win, even with the startling news that Chris Pronger will miss the remainder of the season and playoffs with postconcussion symptoms. Giroux has missed the last two games with similar issues, and Pronger hasn't skated since Nov. 19.
"We've been playing well without them," Scott Hartnell said. "It's been simple hockey, fun hockey. We're in your face, we're skating all the time. It leads to good shifts, good periods, good wins. We've been rolling."
General manager Paul Holmgren said Claude Giroux was evaluated by doctors yesterday for his concussion and his "out indefinitely" status has not changed . . . Brayden Schenn missed his fifth straight game with a concussion.