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January 31, 2015

Voracek, Simmonds reach 500-game milestone together

Flyers NHL
013115_SImmonds-Voracek @Simmonds17/Twitter

Flyers' Wayne Simmonds, left, and Jake Voracek after they both played in their 500th career game.

Jake Voracek and Wayne Simmonds are both having great seasons for the Flyers. Voracek leads the NHL in points while Simmonds leads the team in goals.

And on Saturday night at the Wells Fargo Center, the two wingers -- who both joined the Flyers on the same day in 2011 after two separate trades -- played in their 500th career games. 

It was appropriate that Simmonds, 26, and Voracek, 25, hit the milestone together, since the two are not only good friends, but also roommates on the road.

According to Frank Seravalli of the Daily News, who wrote a great feature on the "odd couple," whichever player has more career games gets control of the remote. But since they've appeared in 170-consecutive games together -- including when they hit the 400-game mark on the same night last season -- how do they decide what to watch?

Here's a little more from Seravalli, although I highly recommend checking out the full story [here]:

Why do two teammates, who are around each other enough to be brothers, pick to share a room over privacy?

"We enjoy each other's company," Simmonds said. "We do a lot of the same things. We're on the same time schedule. I think, since we've been traded here, we just clicked. It's definitely an honor to hit my 500th game with a guy like Jake."

Of course, there are predictable hijinks that occur over an 82-game season that you might expect from two men in their mid-20s. Just recently, Voracek was pranked by teammate Michael Raffl, who usually bunks with Zac Rinaldo.

"I asked 'Raff' for a charger," Voracek explained. "He told me he left the door open, to go in and grab it. I walked it, it was dark. I saw the charger, so I went to go get it. He jumped out of the closet and I almost [soiled] myself. He scared the [bleep] out of me. I hate that stuff. That was just one recent memory. There are so many stories, just being around the guys, dinner, bars, jokes, having fun with them."  [via]

While it's rare for two players to hit these milestones together, it's not the first time two Flyers have had to share the spotlight on the night of their 500th career game. On January 25, 1992, Dave Brown and Garry Galley when the Flyers lost 6-4 to...the same Toronto Maple Leafs. That game, however, was in Toronto.

Voracek saw his five-game point streak come to an end at the Wells Fargo Center, as the Flyers shutout Toronto, 1-0, but he didn't mind. He knows how important it was for his team to get the two points.

"Sometimes you play great, and you lose the game," Voracek said. "Today it’s our fourth win in-a-row. It’s a huge win. Like I said, sometimes it won’t be pretty, but two points is what counts.”

Heading into action Saturday night, he was the first Flyer since Bobby Clarke (1972-73) to lead the NHL in points at least 50 games into a season. Despite being named the league MVP, Clarke finished that season in second with 104 points, 26 behind Phil Esposito. 

With 58 points (17 G, 41 A), he's clinging to a slim two-point lead over Patrick Kane of the Blackhawks and Tyler Seguin of the Stars. His linemate and Flyers captain Claude Giroux is tied in fourth place with 52 points.

Simmonds also failed to get a point against the Leafs, with the Flyers' lone goal coming from defenseman Michael Del Zotto, who is riding a six-game point streak of his own. 

Still, it was a nice honor for the two players, who have been huge in the Flyers' recent turnaround. They've won five of their last six games, including all three since the all-star break, after losing eight of their previous 11 games.

Any chance they're still tied for career games when they near the 1,000-game mark? Now that would be something.

Scary moment for Voracek

In the first period, Voracek was hit head first into the corner boards. He wasn't down long, but it was scary to watch as it happened.

After the game, he said it wasn't as bad -- or as dirty -- as it looked:

“No, it’s always a tough play. I don’t think he meant to do that. I was kind of changing directions, and you’re kind of weak at that spot. As soon as I cut back, he pushed me, but things like that happen. It’s usually ugly, but I don’t think it was that bad. I think the two minute penalty was a good call for it.”