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Flyers vs. Kings preview: California dreamin’ for back-to-back season-opening wins

Can the Flyers follow up their season-opening win over the Sharks with another win in California?

NHL: Philadelphia Flyers at San Jose Sharks Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

The Flyers are right back at it on the ice following their seasoning opening win in San Jose with a short trip south to face the Kings on Thursday night . Puck drop is set for 10 p.m. ET from the Staples Center, and the game will air on NBC Sports Philadelphia — formerly CSN Philly — and 97.5 The Fanatic.

A Wayne Simmonds hat trick fueled the Flyers’ 5-3 win over the Sharks, which included a breakout performance from both special teams units and solid goaltending from newcomer Brian Elliott.

The Flyers went 3-for-5 on the power play and killed off four of six power plays from a dangerous Sharks attack. Elliott stopped 32 of 35 shots and made several key saves down the stretch to help preserve the Flyers’ lead late.

Coach Dave Hakstol will be looking for more of the same as the Flyers meet up with the Kings tonight at Staples, a building the Flyers have had great success in. The Flyers are 9-2-1 all-time at the arena, including a 4-2 win last season. One thing the Kings will have this time around, however, is starting goalie Jonathan Quick, who missed a bunch of time last season and is healthy and ready to go for Los Angeles.

Here are some things to watch for tonight when the Flyers battle the Kings.

1. Can the special teams — namely the power play — keep the momentum going?

The Flyers power play was abysmal during the preseason, but shined in the opener against San Jose and provided the three goals that proved to be the difference in the game. It’s no secret that the Flyers weren’t the best even strength team a year ago, and the power play needed to be a top-five unit to propel them into the playoffs instead of the middle-of-the-pack (14th overall) unit they ended up being.

If the power play can put up elite numbers like in did in San Jose on Wednesday night, small sample size notwithstanding, it could go a long way in improving the Flyers’ playoff chances.

2. Will the fourth line of Taylor Leier, Scott Laughton and Michael Raffl continue to be effective?

The Flyers’ fouth line was a revolving door of awful last season, but this new group looked like a real nice, cohesive line against the Sharks. Both Leier and Laughton are good skaters with speed and Raffl uses his body well to control the puck and create space for others.

It was only one game, but the reviews were very good for this group together and another big key to the Flyers’ success in 2017-18 will be having a bottom six that can be counted on to be effective but also to help drive play once in a while.

3. Will the first line of Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier and Jake Voracek continue to dominate?

While the Flyers’ fourth line drew a ton of praise for their work in game one, it was the Flyers’ top line that stood out most. Giroux is looking more and more comfortable on the wing and scored the first goal against San Jose while Voracek racked up three assists. Couturier had three golden scoring chances by my count, and this line could get even more dangerous if he can bury some of these chances going forward.

The Flyers lines are expected to look the same, with the only change in net and Michal Neuvirth getting the nod in the second end of the back-to-back.