Most teams don’t change things when they win, that’s a given. So sometimes, a team wins even though the coach made some questionable roster decisions, and then they stick with it.
So, sorry, Travis Konecny and Shayne Gostisbehere. Please enjoy the press box, I guess.
It’s a shame for the rest of us, though. While Gostisbehere’s numbers aren’t as eye-popping as they were in his rookie campaign, he’s still a solid young defenseman. And if your only exposure to Konecny was during the home opener, you may not realize how entertaining he is to watch. He plays like he’s much older and bigger than he actually is, with an infectious joy for the game. (He reminds me a lot of another thinks-he’s-bigger-than-his-roster-height former Flyer, if you get where I’m going.) Alas, that’s all a story for another next season, I suppose, as they both get to sit out for the night.
The Flyers take the ice after having neatly dispatched the Candiens on Thursday. Montreal seemed to stop playing after an early first period goal, allowing the Flyers to come back. After an embarrassing loss to the Hurricanes, the performance on Thursday was just what the Flyers needed, so they’re coming into this game perhaps with a new bit of confidence.
They’re a team much in the same position as the Kings, though -- some impressive streaks, some mediocrity, mostly baffling. Their records are about the same, and both teams are clinging to a wild card spot. The Flyers have two points on the Panthers, and the Kings are just one ahead of the Blues. So this normally somewhat unimportant East/West matchup holds two very important points for both teams, looking to solidify a spot in the playoffs.
The Kings may or may not have a new look come game-time because -- cue the choir of angels singing -- Tyler Toffoli may be back in the line-up. Officially, he’s a game-time decision, and it’s possible he sits out one more game. They may want to be cautious and not play him in a back-to-back scenario. Regardless, it’s safe to start getting a little more excited about Toffoli’s imminent return.
While the game against the Avalanche should have the Kings in high spirits, they can’t afford to get sloppy. A strong start is essential, but so is a strong finish. It’s one thing to take your foot off the gas with the literal worst team in the league. The Flyers have their structural issues, but regardless of which goalie gets the start, they’re both tested, strong goaltenders who could make it very difficult for the Kings to play catch-up.
You west coast folks are waking up very early for this one. Let’s hope it’s exciting in all the right ways to make up for that early alarm.
Projected Line Combinations
Los Angeles Kings
Gaborik - Kopitar - Brown
Pearson - Carter - Toffoli??!!??!!!!!
King - Shore - Lewis
Clifford - Dowd - Setoguchi
Muzzin - Doughty
Forbort - Martinez
McNabb - Gravel
Raffl - Giroux - Voracek
Weise - Schenn - Simmonds
Cousins - Couturier - Read
VandeVelde - Bellemare - Lyubimov
Manning - Schultz
Provorov - MacDonald
Gudas - Streit
Opposing Preview: Broad Street Hockey