A day after Los Angeles whitewashed the Washington Capitals 4-1 at the Verizon Center, the Kings traveled up I-95 to play the
Philadelphia Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center. Los Angeles was able to escape multiple chances early on and shut down the Flyers’ offense to keep the game within their sights giving Jonathon Quick his sixth shutout of the season with a 1-0 victory.
After a scoreless first period, Kings defenseman Drew Doughty scored his seventh goal of the year from Anze Kopitar and Wayne Simmonds to give his team a 1-0 lead 17 seconds into the second period. Following a slower offensive zone entrance by the Kings and a Jody Shelley and Kevin Westgarth fight, the Flyers then took over. Philadelphia had their best shifts here in the game to this point, and drew three power plays, including a 5-on-3. Nonetheless, the Flyers were unable to capitalize on their opportunities.
“I think our execution wasn’t the best today,” said Flyer Daniel Briere. “but we threw a lot of pucks on net and I thought we did a good job going to the net.”
“They have very big defensemen,” Briere continued. “They’re physical upfront, and we battled it out. For some reason we just co
uldn’t find the loose pucks and Quick was good when he had to make the big saves.”
The solid penalty kill gave the Kings new life and confidence to create their own chances for the rest of the period. It certainly also helped that Jonathon Quick stood on his head all game, making some incredible saves. Through the rest of the game, Quick stopped everything his way and quick dump and chases by the defense kept the Flyers off the board for the shutout.
“Quickie [Quick] made some huge stops in the second period,” said Kopitar about the 5-on-3. “It wasn’t a long 5-on-3 but between winning the draws and clearing the puck, it obviously frustrated them and frustrated the crowd.”
The Kings’ all-star continued, “That’s when we sensed we’re really going to shut them down and just kept going.”
And so this game was very telling of how the Kings have been all year round. The Kings have been noted as “troubled” by some, as they were expected to do big things this year after the season they had last year. However, this game proved the point that the Kings, if they really wanted to, could have been in a playoff spot by this point of the season, minus much difficulty in consistent scoring, much like the Capitals in the East.
“It may be the best team in the National Hockey League,” said Kings head coach Terry Murray about the Flyers. “They are one of the premier scoring teams and one of the best defensive teams. They are solid throughout their lineup so you have to come out ready to play. You have to be energized, enthusiastic and go out and have some fin in a game like this. It is a real test as to who you are as a player and as a team.”
Once the Kings leave Philadelphia, they go on to finish the second half of their eight-game road stretch, they look to continue the playoff push.
“After the All-Star Break we knew we had to get points, that’s just the bottom line,” said Kopitar The next game we play is not going to be less than important than tonight’s.”
“Our motivation is to make the playoffs,” said Quick about winning two tough games on the road and continuing on. “Right now we’re not in that top eight so if we do fine there we’ve got to keep on pushing.”
While Los Angeles has been very successful defensively, placed fourth in the NHL with 131 goals allowed and Jonathon Quick in second among all goalies with a 2.08 GAA and has a .924% save percentage, Washington with 135 goals against sitting in fifth place, they fall all the way to 18th in the league with only 150 goals scored as a team. The Kings also do not have a 20-goal scorer yet.
Suggestions to help the Kings’ offensive struggles have ranged from acquiring Ales Hemsky from the Oilers or Chicago’s Viktor Stalberg, getting a center from Edmonton or St. Louis, to getting an defenseman who can enter the play, like Robyn Regehr. But of course, now that some teams, like the Calgary Flames have started to get hot, teams who were once sellers are no longer sellers, and trading possibly only right winger Wayne Simmonds or center Trevor Lewis may not be enough to get some players at this point.
For now though, the Kings continue their focus on what they can currently do themselves to keep alive in the playoff race.
As Kopitar said, “To come in here and get it done shows the huge character of this team and it’s just the way our team should play every night.”