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Kings 5, Flyers 3: Not quite the end to the year we were hoping for

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Short memory; into the New Year we go.

Philadelphia Flyers v Los Angeles Kings Photo by Juan Ocampo/NHLI via Getty Images

It’s the last game of the year, folks! We’re not going to be making any corny jokes about that, so we’ll just leave that one there. The Flyers closed out 2019 in LA tonight against a struggling Kings team, and, well, things went pretty aggressively Flyers, in a lot of ways.

It was something of a quiet start to the game as both teams seemed to be feeling each other out, and the Flyers were looking like they were trying to get their legs under them, still. It was quiet, that is, until Kyle Clifford who, as the broadcast noted, isn’t exactly noted for his offensive game, got the Kings on the board just over five minutes into the first period.

And things just kind of kept getting worse from there. Robert Hagg took a penalty about a minute later and sent the Kings to the power play. The Kings, coming into this game, were sitting at 30th in the league on the power play, so naturally, they were able to score on their first attempt of the game. A bit of pretty easy passing led to a nice deflection chance for Alex Iaffalo.

AND THEN IT GOT WORSE. About a minute later still, Scott Laughton was whistled for roughing and the Kings got another chance on the power play, and they were able to convert on this one too, thanks to Tyler Toffoli, who was wide open at the side of the net. Sigh.

We’d been starting to think that the Flyers might be bucking down some as the period went on—they’d picked up a couple of nice chances and then got a chance on the power play before the period ended. Everything’s coming up Flyers, right? Well, evidently not. A turnover sprung the Kings on a shorthanded two-on-one and Adrian Kempe shot one past Elliott and it was 4-0.

Relatively speaking, the second period for the Flyers was pretty unremarkable. Hart was put in to start the period and they came out of this one with just (however shots and chances) after registering 15 shots and 20 attempts in the first period alone. The highlight of the first half of the period came after Joel Farabee made a very nifty pass through traffic to set up Mikhail Vorobyev, whose shot just hit the post. But hey, it was something? And that something wasn’t a goal against? We’ll take that.

The tides started to turn further in the Flyers’ favor as the Flyers managed to get themselves on the board when Farabee went to the net and created a bit of traffic in front, just enough distraction to let Justin Braun’s point shot sneak through.

And then things got real weird to close out the period! A quick rundown:

A power play for the Flyers where they didn’t do anything.

A shorthanded chance for Jeff Carter that Carter Hart handled easily.

A breakaway for Austin Wagner that Hart also stopped.

A brief penalty kill to end the period.

Whew.

The Flyers, though, did still have some carryover power play time to kill at the start of the third and, well, they didn’t do that. Just as they were nearing the end of the penalty, Braun screened Hart and Martin Frk was able to snap a shot past him. 5-1 game.

The special teams battle continued to be the story of the game, as the Flyers would get another chance on the power play, and actually made something of that chance. It was a nice bit of passing on the rush and Claude Giroux with the finish. Pretty nice stuff.

We hit a bit of a lull in activity after that, and just as we were starting to think that maybe that was going to be just about it for this one. But then! Braun sent another shot in from the point, and this time it deflected in off of Scott Laughton’s skate and we had ourselves a two goal game!

The Flyers pulled the goalie with just over two minutes to go in the period, and despite having a couple of good chances, that really was it for that one. And the Flyers dropped their last game of the calendar year. *sad trombone noise*

Three stars

1. Claude Giroux

Offense was tough to come by in this one, so we’re giving a whole bunch of credit to those who were able to actually put a puck in the back of the net. Braun gets a hat tip but not a full star recognition, because he also pretty directly allowed a goal against. Sorry.

Anyway, Giroux scored a hockey goal tonight and he did it on the power play, which isn’t something we’ve been able to say a whole lot recently. This really wasn’t a very pretty game for the Flyers, all things considered, but at the very least it was nice to see the power play do something, and to have it be Giroux to get the goal after a good bit of the broadcast was spent highlighting the decade he had with the team. That’s continuity, baby!

2. Carter Hart

After Elliott was pulled after giving up four goals in the first period, Hart came in in relief and had himself a solid game. He didn’t have to deal with quite the same level of activity (14 shots in two periods after Elliott faced 15 in one period), but he made a couple of huge saves when they needed them. This game was all but over by the time he hit the ice, but the team surging at least part of the way back feels important, and Hart helped them make that happen. He kept them in the game and played a big part in stopping the bleeding. Maybe they needed a bit of a reset after that brutal first period, and the goalie change helped that. But all the same, Hart played well after looking a little shaky in his last showing, and was able to come into this game and do what was asked of him.

3. Joel Farabee

We thought for a second that maybe Farabee had picked up a goal in this one, had maybe deflected Braun’s shot, but no dice there. All the same, he had himself a pretty solid game, overall. Outside of that pass that was almost a very nice setup for Vorobyev, he had a couple of nice chances of his own in this game, and just overall looked active and engaged. As we mentioned earlier, offense was tough to come by in this one, and the Flyers didn’t always have the most jump, and Farabee was able to bring a pretty consistent energy, which made him stand out all the more.

Play of the game

There were a couple of neat plays in this game, but I’m a big fan of Kurtis MacDermid going for a big hit on Ivan Provorov, making a little bit of contact, and then fully putting himself in the Flyers’ bench. Nailed it, my dude.