Another year, another season opener where Jonathan Quick is all anyone can talk about. At least this time he managed to make it through all 60 minutes in one piece! Thank you, hockey gods!
All American hero Trevor Lewis got the game winning goal, and for a long stretch, had the game’s only goal. Props to Michal Neuvirth who was fantastic and probably deserved a better fate. Fortunately for LA, lady luck was on their side for a change (postseason flukes notwithstanding).
Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, the Los Angeles Kings and Philadelphia Flyers were very close all game. The Flyers did manage to edge the Kings in both shot attempts and shots on goal (35 SOG to 27 and 41 to 39 score-adjusted corsi).
However, LA did out chance the visitors 33 to 20 at even-strength and 42 to 32 in all situations.
During the preseason, it became evident that the team would willingly yield some of their gaudy possession numbers in favor of generating more scoring opportunities. It paid off in the second period when Kyle Clifford created a turnover and fed Lewis for the game’s opening goal.
Clifford smartly keeps his feet moving, but more importantly, Nick Shore makes the heads up play to Lewis who is crashing the net. Before, the Kings would’ve cycled endlessly around the zone hoping to find some kind of magical hole.
In terms of a 1-0 game, it was actually fairly entertaining as the home team frequently elected to trade chances and rushes. The Flyers have a lot of young talent on their roster and it was fun to watch them get creative when they had the chance. This more up-tempo game from the Kings was refreshing and actually not that boring for a change. It’ll be interesting to see if they can keep it up all season long.
As mentioned earlier, Quick was fantastic in his own right. There really wasn’t a lot of angry sprawling cat action from him. In fact, he was quite calm and efficient with his movements and was great at tracking the puck all night. He made 35 saves for his 45th career shutout. His defense helped a lot by blocking out opposing players and not allowing them to set up or screen in front of the net.
In particular, Jake Muzzin (lightning rod that he is) did this quite a bit, especially in the third period when the Flyers were pressing for an equalizer and the Kings were a bit back on their heels. In fact, Muzzin was one of only seven players to finish positive in corsi. He was actually hands down the best defenseman in terms of shot attempt differential with a net positive of six. Drew Doughty, on the other hand, was second worst on defense, finishing a -3 in corsi with slightly more difficult zone starts than Muzzin.
Kurtis MacDermid was one of two rookie defensemen who made their NHL debut in this game. He played less than 10 minutes while the rest of the minutes were spread fairly evenly among the more veteran players. He didn’t look overwhelmed by the speed of the game but his performance may have opened the door for Paul LaDue to make his season debut on Saturday against the San Jose Sharks. Then again, Stevens may opt for more #grit in the lineup versus a tough division rival.
Speaking of rookies, Alex Iafallo was just as great in this game as he was all preseason. He only played about 13 minutes, but he looked very comfortable in a bottom-six role and even managed to look dangerous offensively a few times.
The best skater on either team was Tyler Toffoli. It took a while, but he finally broke through Neuvirth and got his hard earned thanks to a sweet reach around pass by his father, Jeff Carter.
By game’s end, he was an astonishing +13, allowing just three shot attempts against in just under 15 minutes of time on ice.
Overall, it was a great team win. There were quite a few (five) penalties and Stevens will probably not be happy about that, but otherwise it was a pretty decent start for the Kings who were perfect on the kill.
Last time the Kings won a home opener? October 3, 2013, a 3-2 shootout win over the Wild.— Jewels from the (@JFTC_Kings) October 6, 2017
But wait! That game was in SWEDEN. The Kings returned to LA for a 5-0 win over the Blues a little over a week later.— Jewels from the (@JFTC_Kings) October 6, 2017