The first period started out great. The Los Angeles Kings weren't dominating by any stretch of the imagination, but they were careful to limit the Philadelphia Flyers' speed, clog up the neutral zone and keep numbers. In fact, it took more than 15 minutes before Philly finally got a shot off. Of course, those last 5 minutes were a little more than LA could handle but thankfully they escaped the period unscathed, with a nearly ideal period - minus the whole dumb penalty to Andy Andreoff and lack of scoring thing.
Then things went to hell in the second period. Wayne Simmonds had been whistled for tripping at the 20 minute mark of the first so he spent two minutes in the box to kick off the middle frame. Not much happened. The Flyers did a good job limiting the Kings and clearing out second chances. Ok, that's fine not so bad HEY WAIT WHAT ARE YOU DOING KINGS WHY ARE YOU LETTING THE FLYERS WALTZ INTO THE ZONE NO NO NO NO THIS IS GOING TO END IN DISAST--AHHHH.
Derek Forbort and Matt Greene got tied up with a routine zone entry while somehow, Anze Kopitar got sucked over to that side of the ice. With no options in front, the puck carrier drop passed to an unmarked Boyd Gordon (I have honestly no idea who he is either) who roofed it over Jeff Zatkoff.
Things didn't get any better 30 seconds later as Zatkoff was unable to control a rebound and no one in gold was around to clear it out of harm's way so Sean Couturier was more than happy to clean up the garbage in front.
The Kings had left the first period probably a little unlucky not to have somehow scored a goal on Michael Neuvirth (yes, for their season opener on the road, the Flyers were so unafraid of the Kings, they started their backup). But they completely melted down in the second period, allowing 21 shots on goal in 20 minutes of play time after holding Philly to just four in the first period.
Things didn't get any better for LA as the game wore on. In fact, Philadelphia tacked on an additional two goals with the Kings looking tired, rusty and bewildered as to how to "defense," an aspect of their game that they were so good at in the beginning. Drew Doughty, unsatisfied with Neuvirth's burgeoning shutout, got the team on the board during the McFlurry Minute (last minute of the period for you out-of-towners).
The momentum seemed to carry over briefly as Brayden McNabb was credited with a goal early in the third period.
Buuuuuut then Jordan Nolan took an offensive zone interference penalty and that was the end of any threat LA was making. Chris Sutter appeared on the jumbotron to try and inspire the Kings but despite a mid-period power play, it didn't work. Darryl Sutter pulled Zatkoff with more than two minutes on the clock, but again, LA barely threatened. The Flyers kept everything to the outside and were still beating the Kings to loose pucks. If this sounds like a recurring theme... Well it is. And will be until the defense is upgraded from traffic cones and grit is upgraded with more skilled, fleet footed forwards.
Some other observations from Twitter:
Greene 0-7 (5v5 Scoring Chances For-Scoring Chances Against), Forbort 0-5. Just to compare: Doughty 9-4, Muzz 7-4, McNabb 7-6, Martinez 5-4— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) October 15, 2016
Also the defense is quietly a mess. Forbort and Greene got killed and Muzzin and Doughty aren't exactly dominating for whatever reason— NotDeadRyanDunn (@NotDeadRyanDunn) October 15, 2016
truly a fitting tribute by the kings to honor the majority of their history by getting smoked— corey scary (@dightkwing) October 15, 2016
Dowd should be in the lineup. https://t.co/m4uBd80GoM— Dennis Bernstein (@DennisTFP) October 15, 2016
20 shots at even strength. Breezed into o zone with little resistence. https://t.co/Tl7t67IOuS— Dennis Bernstein (@DennisTFP) October 15, 2016
And now some relevant quotes!
Anze Kopitar on Jonathan Quick prolonged absence "a magic spell isn't going to bring him back. We're going to go out and win games"— Dennis Bernstein (@DennisTFP) October 15, 2016
Darryl Sutter on starting 0-2, "the plan is to go 80-2"— Dennis Bernstein (@DennisTFP) October 15, 2016
DS: "Some guys didn't get to play in the 3rd pd tonight, some guys did." Was worried abt this, hope he's not Versteeg'ing Purcell— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) October 15, 2016
Brayden McNabb had a goal, but the real highlight was Daryl Evans' suit. @ Staples Center https://t.co/k2eLIdojqE— Jon Rosen (@lakingsinsider) October 15, 2016
Good news! Tanner Pearson will be back tomorrow having served the final game of his somewhat excessively long suspension. Hopefully that means the 70s line will be reunited, Teddy Purcell can rejoin Kopitar's line, Dwight King will move back to the bottom-six where he best fits, at least one of Nolan or Andreoff will be scratched and if Sutter is wise, he will free Nic Dowd from his press box prison. Hell, while we're at it, since Tom Gilbert was signed for his puck moving skills, might as well scratch Greene.
Minnesota is going to be a tough opponent. If any coach can maximize his players' performances, it'd be Bruce Boudreau and he can quite possibly make Zach Parise and Ryan Suter look like they were worth their $10 million contracts. Not to mention Devan Dubnyk seems to have found a nice groove behind a steady defense that even Mike Yeo couldn't screw up.
What will actually happen and what we wish will happen are two vastly different things. It's only Game 2 and the Kings looked slightly better than they did on Wednesday night so it's possible that staying the course and letting things sort themselves out is the way to go. Then again, why make it so much harder if it's unnecessary?