For the Flyers it’s been a case of one step forward and then an immediate step back of late.
After promising wins against the likes of the Capitals, Bruins, and Blues, the Flyers fell flat on their face against the Canadiens on Thursday. A thrilling 4-3 win in St. Louis was dismissed by a 4-1 loss back at home in the Wells Fargo Center to a Montreal team wallowing in no-man’s land in the standings.
But Carey Price was good, Ilya Kovalchuck turned back the clock, and the Flyers were left with a disappointing followup to what they hoped was a breakthrough performance on the road at the
defending Stanley Cup champion Blues a night earlier.
They’ll get a chance to right the ship at home as the Kings come to town, boasting one of the NHL’s very thinnest rosters and owners of just 41 points. That’s not a good hockey team, but still somehow 14 points better than the Red Wings, who have firmly established themselves as the frontrunners in NHL Tankathon 2020.
Still, the Kings are just plain bad. They get scored on a ton, don’t score a ton, and have some of the worst special teams going in the league. Jonathan Quick has a goals-against average on the wrong side of 3.0 and a save percentage under .900 while Anze Kopitar is about the only consistent scoring threat on the entire roster.
Even with a depleted roster, the Flyers look like the late 90’s Red Wings compared to the Kings. That makes the Flyers’ 5-3 loss in Los Angeles a few weeks ago all that more surprising, because the Kings have scored five or more goals just five times all season. The Flyers spotted the Kings a 4-0 lead in that game, and was in the middle of the teams’ dreaded Disney on Ice road trip after the Christmas break, but still: embarrassing.
Let’s hope the Flyers don’t do that again, because those points are getting more and more precious by the day with teams like the Panthers and Blue Jackets not fading into the sunset in terms of playoff contention.
Players to watch
Was Alex Lyon the reason the Flyers lost against the Canadiens? No, but he wasn’t anything more than a spot start that Alain Vigneault figured he needed to get in order to try and survive until Carter Hart is recovered from his injury.
Elliott was stellar in St. Louis and should get both games before the All-Star break as the Flyers look to go into that break on a high note. Bit of a revenge game for the Moose as he was just dreadful out in Hollywood against these same Kings a few weeks ago.
James van Riemsdyk
Are we sure that he even goes here anymore? Like serious question. He’s got zero goals and four assists in his past 12 games while the Flyers deal with some serious lineup turnover and he’s fading further towards the doghouse. Goal scorers are streaky, but the Flyers are getting desperate with JVR and his garbage season thus far.
Speaking of not scoring, the captain hasn’t exactly been lighting the world on fire either. He’s got one assists in his last five games and has taken a backseat to other scoring threats like Sean Couturier, Travis Konecny, Kevin Hayes, and Jakub Voracek. The Flyers’ power play still isn’t clicking like it should and Giroux missed the net totally with a couple golden scoring chances against the Blues and Canadiens.
The Flyers need a bunch of guys to get going offensively, and Giroux is not immune.
One key matchup
Look, the Kings’ penalty kill just flat-out sucks. They’re 28th overall operating at just 74% on the season and gave up goals in eight of ten games at one point last month. The Flyers, on the other hand, have just two power play goals in their last seven games (20 chances). Figure it out, boys. * Incubus plays * If not now, when?
Flyers projected lineup
Giroux - Hayes - Konecny
Raffl - Couturier - Voracek
JVR - Laughton - Farabee
NAK - Bunnaman - Pitlick
Provorov - Niskanen
Sanheim - Braun
Hagg - Myers
It’s been only a couple of weeks since the Flyers were out in LA, losing a game on the road, as they do. This time the Kings are coming into The Farg, so should we expect anything different? Robyn Pennington of Jewels from the Crown joins us once again to dive into the state of the Kings, even if not much has changed.