Flyers-Kings: Game 33 Preview

The Philadelphia Flyers will try to extend their winning streak to lucky number seven but will have to do so against the resurgent Los Angeles Kings.

By Dan Heaning, Sports Talk Philly staff writer 

It's hard to get a hold on this Philadelphia Flyers team. After losing ten games in a row, the Orange and Black will try to earn their seventh straight victory tonight at 7 from the Wells Fargo Center, but standing in their way is the top team in the Pacific Division, the Los Angeles Kings.

Once known for stifling defense, the Kings have added an element of speed to their game. Thanks to this faster play, head coach John Stevens has implemented a mix of suffocating defense and offense coming off quick transitional play. Flyers fans will remember this style from Stevens' time in Philadelphia as coach. Instead, this time around, he's revived the play of Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown in the City of Angels rather than develop the likes of Mike Richards and Jeff Carter like he did a decade ago in the City of Brotherly Love.

However, the Flyers faced this strategy already once this season in a 2-0 defeat to Los Angeles. The real difference in the game was an inexperienced Travis Sanheim not keeping his head on a swivel which allowed the Kings to gain the lead. If the game is tight in a similar fashion, Sanheim will likely not be making the same mistake which would put this game up for grabs.

The Kings have a two-point lead in the Pacific Division over the expansion Vegas Golden Knights, but Vegas has two games in hand. However, the Kings are two points behind the Nashville Predators for the lead in the Western Conference. The Flyers, with their win streak, have moved from the cellar of the East and into striking distance of a playoff spot. The Flyers are four points behind the New York Islanders and New York Rangers for one of the Eastern Conference wild card spots. With a win, the Flyers can tie the Pittsburgh Penguins in points with a game in hand as well.

Team Leaders

Philadelphia Flyers GP G A P Los Angeles Kings GP G A P
Jake Voracek 32 7 33 40 Anze Kopitar 34 17 22 39
Claude Giroux 32 13 22 35 Dustin Brown 34 12 15 27
Sean Couturier  32 15 15 30 Drew Doughty 34 5 20 25
Shayne Gostisbehere 29 6 18 24 Tyler Toffoli 34 15 9 24
Wayne Simmonds 32 10 9 19 Tanner Pearson 34 6 14 20


Player to Watch
28 Claude Giroux 73 Tyler Toffoli
Last 5 Games: 2 G, 5 A, 7 P, +1 Last 5 Games: 2 G, 3 A, 5 P, +1
To be fair, being on the lookout for either Claude Giroux or Jake Voracek is completely understandable. Both have seven points in their last five games and have been the straws that stir the drink for the Flyers offense. However, in this game, Giroux's input may be the most vital. Sean Couturier's offensive output has plateaued since Voracek was moved to a different line. Giroux's playmaking ability will be all the more necessary to get Couturier and Wayne Simmonds going against a Kings team that likes to suffocate and transition in a flash. If Giroux and Voracek can keep their respective lines going, the streak has a strong chance of surviving for another game.
Fresh off a two-point outing against the New York Islanders, keep an eye out for Tyler Toffoli. Without Jeff Carter, Toffoli has emerged as the premier goal scorer for the Kings. While Anze Kopitar leads the team in goals, assists and points, his line will be the defensive focus for the Flyers. This means Toffoli will see a lot of the Flyers second and third defensive pairings, particularly Robert Hagg or Radko Gudas. Toffoli could take advantage of the matchups and if he does, the Flyers will need to solve Quick often.
Goalie Matchup
37 Brian Elliott 32 Jonathan Quick
12-6-6, 2.61 GAA, .915 SV% 15-10-1, 2.33 GAA, .924 SV%

The last time Brian Elliott surrendered three goals, the Flyers lost. That is how good Elliott has been during this seven-game win streak. The Flyers starting netminder has surrendered a mere nine goals with a .949 save percentage during the streak. Furthermore, he's posted a save percentage below .923 only once during the streak. However, Elliott hasn't been perfect. The goal he allowed to Patrick Marleau in the Toronto game was extremely soft and put the team behind the proverbial eightball. It squashed any hopes of momentum the Flyers opening goal would have created and gave the Leafs an opportunity to steal the game if not for the Flyers furious third period comeback. Elliott battled back and played well in that game to his credit, but those soft goals could be the difference between winning and losing especially when the opposing team's goalie is one of the league's best. 

With 16 really good starts and only two really bad starts, don't expect Jonathan Quick to gift wrap this one to the Flyers. Instead, scoring may be a baffling chore for the Orange and Black like it was in their first meeting this season when Quick stopped all 35 shots for s shutout. On the bright side for Philadelphia, Quick hasn't been great on the Kings road trip to the East Coast. Quick surrendered five goals to the New Jerse Devils and three to the New York Rangers with save percentages of .808 and .889. Getting to Quick early will be essential for the Flyers. However, should they get him into a rhythm in the process, the consequences may be an end to their current win streak.

Flyers Projected Lineup

Injuries: Brandon Manning has a hand injury and is expected to miss three to four weeks, Michal Neuvirth is out one to two weeks with a leg injury.

Scratches: Jori Lehtera, Mark Alt (healthy)

Left Wing Center Right Wing
28 Claude Giroux 14 Sean Couturier 17 Wayne Simmonds
12 Michael Raffl 51 Valtteri Filppula 93 Jake Voracek
40 Jordan Weal 19 Nolan Patrick 22 Dale Weise
20 Taylor Leier 21 Scott Laughton 11 Travis Konecny
9 Ivan Provorov 47 Andrew MacDonald  
8 Robert Hagg 53 Shayne Gostisbehere  
6 Travis Sanheim 3 Radko Gudas  
37 Brian Elliott    

Lineup Notes: With Neuvirth hurt, Alex Lyon will serve as the backup netminder

Kings Projected Lineup

Injuries: Jeff Carter is out until February after surgery to repair a lacerated left ankle tendon.

Left Wing Center Right Wing
12 Marian Gaborik 11 Anze Kopitar 23 Dustin Brown
70 Tanner Pearson 9 Adrian Kempe 73 Tyler Toffoli
19 Alex Iafallo 21 Nick Shore 22 Trevor Lewis
15 Andrew Andreoff 71 Torrey Mitchell  17 Jonny Brodzinski
6 Jake Muzzin 8 Drew Doughty  
56 Kurtis MacDermid 27 Alec Martinez  
24 Derek Forbort 5 Christian Folin  
32 Jonathan Quick    

Game Notes

  • Power Play: Flyers (15th, 24th at home), Kings (T-25th, 3oth on road)
  • Penalty Kill: Flyers (29th, 29th at home), Kings (1st, T-2nd on road)
  • Recent History vs. Kings
    • Oct. 5, 2017 – Kings 2, Flyers 0 (in LA)
    • Feb. 4, 2017 – Kings 1, Flyers 0 (in PHI)
    • Oct. 14, 2016 – Flyers 4, Kings 2 (in LA)
  • Flyers Career Leaders vs. Kings
    • Claude Giroux – 14 GP, 3 G, 7 A, 10 P
    • Jake Voracek – 22 GP, 4 G, 10 A, 14 P
    • Travis Konecny – 2 GP, 0 G, 2 A, 2 P
    • Brian Elliott – 15 GP, 5-6-2, 2.24 GAA
  • Milestone Watch
    • Jake Voracek can achieve the following milestones:
      • With one point, he can pass Dave Poulin for 20th in Flyers history.
      • With one assist, he can pass Simon Gagne for 17th in the team's all-time assist leaders list.
      • With one goal, he can tie Daniel Briere for 28th in franchise history.
    • Wayne Simmonds needs one point to pass Mel Bridgman for 26th and two points to pass Scott Hartnell for 25th in Flyers history

Where to Watch
TV: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Radio: 93.3 WMMR

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