Game Day Preview #1, Philadelphia Flyers @ Los Angeles Kings

New lines, new faces, new season!

Preview: Philadelphia Flyers (1-0-0) @ Los Angeles Kings (0-0-0)

How to Watch and What to Watch

Oh, boy.

The last time I occupied this Game Day Preview space, I channeled the very spirit of Dean Lombardi for about a thousand words. The team’s organizational shake-up this summer has left us without a GM who speaks in war stories, and without a coach who speaks in farming metaphors. So I’ve got about 80 games to come up with another weird shtick.

For now, we’ll stick with the facts.

Once again, the Flyers are getting their west coast road trip out of the way early, as they roll (you thought I was going to say fly, didn’t you) into Los Angeles today after a Wayne Simmonds-powered win over the Sharks. The former King and still fan favorite scored three straight goals over the second and third periods in San Jose, marking the team’s first opening night hat trick in history.

Simmonds isn’t the only former King making noise, though. Jordan Weal, who never quite caught on here, had a strong camp and started the season off on the second line, centered by top draft pick Nolan Patrick. Weal got the team’s second goal last night, a perfect shot on the rush during a power play.

I’ll give you a minute to process your complicated feelings about both of these things.

Here’s a video of a jellyfish to soothe you. Come back when you’re ready.

Okay, great. Thanks for taking a moment.

In net, the Kings will face off against Michal Neuvirth, who has bounced around the league over the past few years, serving as a backup for the Sabres and Islanders before landing in Philadelphia. Neuvirth has only one win against the Kings (he’s 1-2-1 against them), but his underlying numbers (0.929 Sv% and 1.85 GAA) suggest that he was playing on teams that didn’t offer him much in the way of goal support.

The Flyers’ lineup decisions are already confounding their fans, with promising rookies Samuel Morin and Travis Sanheim making the team but serving as healthy scratches in San Jose.   Early lineup projections from Philly media don’t seem to anticipate any changes, even on the latter half of a back-to-back. So instead of getting to see what the Flyers can do with the injection of some fresh, young players into their defense, Flyers fans get to watch Andrew MacDonald take on first pairing minutes.

Good luck with that.

The Kings take the ice tonight with several new faces, all of whom we’ve written about over the past few weeks. With Alec Martinez out with an allegedly minor injury, off-season signing Christian Folin will make his debut in Martinez’s spot, while rookies Kurtis MacDermid and Oscar Fantenberg make up the third pairing. (Presuming that Paul LaDue wasn’t called up just to be an extra body, expect him to get into another game soon, particularly if any of Folin, MacDermid, or Fantenberg struggle.) Both of them had excellent showings throughout pre-season and look to be able to replicate that success now that the games have more meaning.

Up front, Alex Iafallo was the biggest surprise out of training camp; he’s going to get the chance to play alongside Kopitar and Brown. Brown should provide a great net-front presence for that trio, while Kopitar’s vision and passing ability could fit nicely with Iafallo’s speed and hands. Mike Cammalleri, if he can regain any of his prior pre-injury form, could be an intriguing scoring option on the third line, and while the fourth line probably won’t score more than fifteen goals combined all season, they should at least be adequate at keeping the puck out of their own net.

Lots of hockey pundits and statistical models are still down on the Kings, and the margin of error for them is very slim this year, but between a hopefully more relaxed coaching system and the addition of fresh new faces to the team, there’s a lot to be excited about.

Just think good thoughts for Jonathan Quick’s health, that’s all.

Projected Line Combinations

Los Angeles Kings

Iafallo - Kopitar - Brown
Pearson - Carter - Toffoli
Cammalleri - Kempe - Brodzinski
Clifford - Shore - Lewis

Forbort - Doughty
Muzzin - Folin
MacDermid - Fantenberg


Philadelphia Flyers

Giroux - Couturier - Voracek
Weal - Patrick - Simmonds
Weise - Filppula - Konecny
Leier - Laughton - Raffl

Provorov - MacDonald
Manning - Gudas
Gostisbehere - Hagg


Opposing Preview: Broad Street Hockey