Preview, Game Day #18: Los Angeles Kings @ Philadelphia Flyers
It's like a family reunion, right down to one cousin being way more successful than the other.
Philadelphia Flyers @ Los Angeles Kings
Time: 4:00 Pacific
TV: Fox Sports West, Comcast Sportsnet Philadelphia
Enemy Reading: Broad Street Hockey
Los Angeles Kings
Scratched: Forbort, Weal Injured: King, Greene
Scratched: Lecavalier, Injured: Streit, Neuvirth, White, Umberger
Stats & Such
(Small sample size warning. Fancy stats courtesy War on Ice)
|Division Rank||1st||6th |
|Streak||Won 2 ||Won 1 |
|Goals For/Game||2.53||1.94 |
|Goals Against/Game||2.12 ||2.94|
|ES Goal %||48.0 ||44.9|
| ES Shot % ||53.3 ||46.1 |
|ES PDO||98.6 ||99.7 |
|ES Corsi %||55.9 ||49.3 |
|ES Fenwick %||55.3 ||48.1 |
|ES Scoring Chance %||54.2 ||46.3 |
|ES High-Danger SC %||52.4 ||44.2 |
|Power Play % (Rank)||20.4 (12th) ||14.3 (26th) |
|Penalty Kill % (Rank)||87.1 (2nd) ||76.2 (25th) |
|Starting Goalie (tonight)||Quick||Mason |
|Goalie Record||8-6-0 ||3-5-2|
|ES Save %||.914 ||.930|
- Kings West vs. Kings East. Flyers East vs. Flyers West. You know the drill. There's fewer connections here than there's been in the past, with ex-Flyers Justin Williams & Mike Richards both gone from the Kings, but these two franchises remain linked for a number of reasons.
- Not the least of those reasons is who now occupies the GM seat in Philadelphia, as ex-Kings assistant Ron Hextall has quietly embarked on what basically amounts to a full-scale rebuild effort. Of the Flyers' current roster, 9 players were acquired in 2014 or 2015 (Hextall took over on 5/7/14). Only Claude Giroux remains from the pre-2010 Flyers, as this team has almost completely changed over from the one that made it to Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final that year. The Flyers were a team that desperately needed to bottom out, as they missed the playoffs in 2 of the past 3 years and, in the other year, snuck in with 94 points before bowing out in the 1st round. Credit to Hextall for seeing a team going nowhere fast and blowing it up.
- All that youth and changeover leaves this year's Flyers as a pretty mediocre hockey club, as you might expect. None of the numbers look good for them, starting with an almost amazingly low 1.94 goals per game. Until last year, scoring goals was not really their issue (they scored 2.75 GPG in 2012-13, 9th in the league, and 2.84 GPG in 2013-14, 8th in the league), but as the rebuild really took shape they fell precipitously last year, scoring just 2.59 goals per game (21st). Obviously 1.94 is another huge step down even from that, and that's likely to rise at least a bit in the rest of the year. But this is clearly not a club with prolific goal scoring talent right now.
- One of the key guys struggling for the Flyers this year is Jakub Voracek, who has just 1 goal and six assists so far. 7 points in 17 games is just 0.41 points-per-game; over the last 3 seasons, he's averaged 0.89 PPG, so he's obviously having one hell of a down year up until this point. His on-ice Corsi % is 54.1%, a huge leap over the Flyers without him on the ice, and his shooting percentage at even strength is....0%. Yeah. I'm guessing that will come up a bit, but small sample sizes sure are fun!
- The Flyers also happen to have atrocious special teams, too, with the 26th-ranked power play and 25th-ranked penalty kill. There is probably a pretty huge luck component to both; the Flyers are actually generating 54.8 scoring chances per 60 minutes of power play time, which is 7th in the league (the Kings are in 3rd with 61.2, if you're wondering). Their shooting percentage on the power play is just 9%, which is tied with their Pennsylvania rivals in Pittsburgh as the fourth-lowest in the league. Meanwhile, Steve Mason's hilarious save percentage split above should tell you what's up with their PK: somehow he has a very good .930 sv% at evens yet has an atrocious .895 sv% overall, so wanna take a guess at what his sv% is like with the Flyers shorthanded? That would be .674. Yes, he's barely stopping two-thirds of the shots he faces down a man. You will probably not be surprised to learn this is the worst in the league (Tuuka Rask of Boston is next at .700, then there's a big gap to 3rd worst, Jonas Hiller of Calgary at .783), and it probably won't continue to be this bad all year long. In the meantime though, it's pretty hilarious!
- The Flyers are also pretty beat up, with Mark Streit being the biggest loss. It remains to be seen who will back up Mason tonight (who himself missed practice yesterday in what is now being described as a "maintenance day", so who knows if he's 100%), as Neuvirth missed the morning skate without an explanation. The other big news from the morning skate was our old pal Brayden Schenn somehow going from the press box to the top line, which was certainly unexpected (most of all to him).
- Okay, that's enough on the Flyers I think. What's up with the Kings? Well, they keep winning hockey games, for one; their win over the Oilers on Saturday gave them a very solid 5-2-0 mark so far in the month of November. Their lead in the Pacific Division is 2 points over the Canucks, though the Kings also have 2 games in hand. The Kings also currently have the rather dubious distinction of being the only team in the Pacific that's more than 1 game above .500; the Canucks, Coyotes, and Sharks all reach that mark, but only the Kings are above it. God what a trash division we play in. I feel like I can't say that enough.
- Darryl Sutter empathized yesterday that he seems to think of Ehrhoff/McBain/Forbort as a revolving door on the third pairing, even noting they could move Christian over to the other side and take McBain out (eliciting a screech of sheer horror from the Mayor, I'm sure). Personally I think most of us would rather see Ehrhoff as a more permanent fixture in the Kings' lineup, but Darryl seems to think his play "drops off" when the schedule gets "hectic". Okay, sure. Either way, I'm just happy he's keeping Doughty & Muzzin separate this year (as people here at Jewels were screaming for a lot last season), because the two have kept playing at an extremely high level apart, bringing great overall depth to the Kings on defense. If he also wants to screw around with the 3rd pairing needlessly, I guess I can deal with that.
- Tonight's game kicks off a 5-game Eastern Conference road trip for the Kings, who have played 12 out of their 17 games at home this season. This will finally make their home/road split look a little less ridiculous, so that's certainly nice. LA is a good 4-1-0 away from home so far this year and hopefully they can keep it up with a good trip.
- Finally, let's get to the most important question of all: which Mega Man villain are you, opponent? The Philadelphia Flyers are quite clearly: AIR MAN!!! Look, sometimes these things just write themselves; Flyers, air, obvious right? Air Man comes to us courtesy 1988's Mega Man 2, considered by seemingly everyone to be the best game of the original series (they're wrong, by the way, that's Mega Man 3; yeah that's right, I said it, fight me). Air Man fires off six (!) tornadoes at once in an attempt to kill our young Blue Bomber. His weakness is the Leaf Shield, which clogs his propeller with leaves and prevents him from firing for a short time. However, this must be timed carefully because the aforementioned tornadoes will simply blow away the Leaf Shield if they make contact with it, so even with his weakness Air Man can still be a challenging fight. This fairly iconic boss would appear in a variety of follow-ups and spin-offs; he reappeared (kind of) as one of the weapons of the infamous Doc Robots in MM3 (essentially you had to beat all of MM2's bosses again along with the 8 MM3 bosses, because Japanese game developers really hated children and wanted them to suffer), and also got to appear in the electronic board game Wily & Right's RockBoard: That's Paradise!, the Mega Man Soccer spin-off, and the arcade quasi-fighting game Mega Man 2: The Power Fighters. The dude gets around, you gotta give him that.
- PREDICTION: Kings win 5-0. All five goals come on the power play. Brayden Schenn attempts to defect back to the Kings midway through the game, but is unsuccessful.