Gameday: Revamped Kings in town for rare visit

Kings_medium
Los Angeles Kings (26-24-9, 61 pts) at #4 Philadelphia Flyers (32-17-9, 73 pts)
Wachovia Center - 7:00 PM ET - Philadelphia, PA
TV: CSN Philly HD, Fox Sports West
Radio: 94.1 WYSP, XM 204
Live Internet Video Stream
This is the open game thread.
Behind Enemy Lines: Battle of California
  Flyers_orange_medium

It's going to be tough to match the excitement of last night's Flyers win. And perhaps it's easy to overlook a team from out West we don't know too well. They haven't been good in a while, it should be an easy win.

The Flyers have been guilty of overlooking teams this season, but if they learned anything from their game back in early January at LA's Staples Center, they cannot take the Kings lightly. That game was a shootout victory for Los Angeles and they've continued to play well since. 8-2-0 in their last 10 road games and 9-4-2 in their last 15, they have become a clear contender in the Western Conference playoff race. They beat the Wild in a shootout last night, 2-1.

Then again, every team is in the race still out West. The Kings sit in twelfth place coming into tonight, four points behind eighth place Dallas but just four points ahead of last place Colorado. Crazy.

You might remember the Kings as the worst team in the NHL last season. They've grown substantially since then, largely due to the emergence of young goaltender Jonathan Quick. He's played 22 games thus far for the Kings and has compiled a .922 save percentage and a 2.51 GAA. Flyers fans in Reading may remember him from last season when he played with the ECHL's Royals.

The Kings are led offensively by a trio of young guys: 21-year-old Anze Kopitar, 24-year-old Dustin Brown, and 26-year-old Alexander Frolov. Brown, the team's captain, is on pace for his best NHL season, scoring 23 goals and 25 assists thus far this season. LA will be missing him tonight, however, as his wife gave birth to their second child last night.

The Flyers, as mentioned earlier in the day, will be missing Kimmo Timonen tonight once again. Randy Jones will have to step up his game big time tonight. If he doesn't, I'm going to hope that Stevens will give more ice time to Ossi Vaananen, but given that Vaananen seems to be in Stevens' doghouse, that's a long shot.

Between the Pipes: Martin Biron will look to rid himself of the demons from Saturday's game-losing blunder against Pittsburgh, but the only way he's going to be able to do that is with a completely solid game this evening. I won't be surprised if the Wachovia Center crowd is on him off the bat tonight. Personally, I'd like to see Marty go just one game without giving up a weak goal. Please?

Erik Ersberg is in for the Kings given that Quick played last night in Minnesota. Ersberg has split time with Quick all season, but his numbers haven't been quite as good. He's got a .899 save percentage and a 2.56 GAA in 23 games and is a paltry 0-3-2 in his last five. Ersberg has never faced the Flyers.


Los Angeles Kings Injuries

Probable

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Denis Gauthier Jr. suspension, eligible to play
02/25/2009

Questionable

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Dustin Brown birth of child
02/25/2009

Out (IR / Out / Suspended / Physically unvailable)

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Tom Preissing other-illness 01/16/2009

Quotable

Despite all his time in Philadelphia, as a player and coach, Terry Murray is not a fan of cheesesteaks or hoagies. He said he prefers some of the great fish in town. Don't you just hate healthy people?

>> Inside the Kings

 

A few notes:

  • The Kings didn't get to Philly until 3:30 this morning following a game in Minnesota last night. The Flyers, playing just down the road (relatively) in DC, slept in their own beds last night.
  • The Kings have four former Flyers: Denis Gauthier (suspended), Kyle Calder (sucks), and Michal Handzus (greatest hair ever).
  • Defensively, the Kings are young but solid, with guys like Jack Johnson, Drew Doughty, and Sean O'Donnell.
  • The Flyers are the most penalized team in the NHL while the Kings are the 9th most penalized. 

Questions To Answer

  1. Can Jeff Carter stay out of his slump? He broke a five-game drought with a goal last night.
  2. Does Randy Jones not suck tonight?
  3. How'd Marty respond to that crap on Saturday? Does he go one game without letting up a weak goal?
  4. The Flyers PP has been stagnant lately, but it's still number one home unit in the league. It was ugly last night -- can they step it up?
  5. Danny Briere is returning on Friday. Darroll Powe, Claude Giroux, and Glen Metropolit are the guys in line to be sent away (although Giroux is probably safe). Who feels the heat and steps it up tonight?

Doing something a little different tonight. The game thread will be separate from this preview. The game open thread will be up around 6:30.  I lied. No change, this will be the game thread. Be here at 7.

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