You know what that means. The Los Angeles Kings get here and immediately everyone’s attention turns toward two things – Jeff Carter and Mike Richards.
Wait, they played here? Then they were traded unexpectedly on the same day and were later reunited on the same Southern California team and won a Stanley Cup. Now their back?
Who knew? I better tweet that!
O.K., I admit I’m a little bit guilty. But just a little bit. A couple months ago I did rehash the trades, but solely for the purpose of seeing where things stand now, nearly three years later.
And yes, I did stick around for the Kings morning skate to check in with the boys, although I wasn’t nearly as upset as some others that Richards took the back door out of the locker room to avoid questions.
But that’s not what I want to write about. And I’m pretty certain, after listening to the vox populi (look it up) on my social streams, neither do you.
Which is why I’m here to make a different Flyers-Kings comparison.
(Wait… there’s a Flyers-Kings comparison that hasn’t been made yet. Impossible!)
Of course it’s one I probably never would have thought to look up had not the St. Louis Blues been here this weekend and had not Blues coach Ken Hitchcock mentioned that the Flyers are “going to be a bear” to play against in the playoffs and had not I vaguely remembered Hitch saying something similar about the Kings two years ago before they won the Stanley Cup.
Funny where these story ideas come from sometimes.
With the Flyers playing so well this (8-1-1 so far), I figured I’d look back and see how the Kings were playing at the same time two years ago.
Would you believe they won six straight against some pretty good teams?
Actually, if you took it back even further, the Kings, like the Flyers, had a four-game losing streak (0-3-1) before going 12-5-0 in their next 17 games.
Since a four game losing skid in January (0-3-1) the Flyers have since gone 13-3-1 in their next 17 games, even better than those Kings.
But it gets eerier from there.
In those 17 games, the Kings outscored their opponents by 22 goals. The Flyers have outscored theirs by 21.
Wanna go further?
Look at the goaltending.
Jonathan Quick, who will start tonight for the Kings, was 10-4-0 in that stretch with a 1.78 goals against average and a .927 save percentage.
Meanwhile, for the Flyers, Steve Mason (who will not start tonight), has gone 11-3-1 with a 2.25 GAA and a .925 save percentage.
While Mason’s numbers are slightly higher than Quick’s, it should be noted that he faced 99 more shots than Quick in only 36 more minutes, which is evidence that the Kings defense is as good as advertised and has a bit of an impact on their goaltender’s statistics.
Either way, great goaltending has carried both teams.
But wait, there’s more…
(Yes, I sound like an infomercial now…)
During that stretch of success for the Kings that led into their franchise’s greatest playoff run, the team’s leading scorer was their captain, Dustin Brown.
O.K., he was tied for the lead in scoring with Anze Kopitar, as both had 18 points in 17 games, but for the purposes of this exercise, let’s focus on the captain shall we?
Brown had six goals and 12 assists to guide the Kings into a playoff spot with their strong month of March.
You should know by now how the Flyers captain is doing….
Claude Giroux, in those 17 games, has nine goals and 18 assists for 27 points to lead the Flyers. Giroux has been leading more than his team, but the entire league in scoring since Dec. 11 and has climbed to fourth in the NHL in scoring and maybe even the MVP race.
Both teams are physical, checking committed, and rely on team defense, but that’s where the similarities stopped.
After Brown and Kopitar, the Kings had just one other player with double digit points in those 17 games – Justin Williams had 15.
As for the Flyers, they had seven more double digit point producers – Scott Hartnell (16), Wayne Simmonds (16), Jakub Voracek (15), Sean Couturier (12), Matt Read (12), Kimmo Timonen (10) and Vinny Lecavalier (10).
That’s some consistent and deep offense.
So, what does all this mean?
Really, it means nothing at all, other than to point out some similarities between this Flyers squad and a Stanley Cup winner.
And anytime you can be compared favorably to a championship team has to mean something, right?
Yes, it was a loose analogy, but hey, I could have focused on something innocuous like Michael Raffl’s skates. Which reminds me…
NOTES: Michael Raffl was breaking in a new pair of skates at the morning practice Monday after his last pair split after blocking a shot at the end of the St. Louis game. Raffl couldn’t wait to get the skates off his feet so they could breathe a little bit. When asked what he was thinking blocking a shot with a three goal lead and 20 seconds to play, Raffl admitted it wasn’t the smartest idea. “Chief asked me the same thing,” Raffl said of coach Craig Berube. “He said, ‘I hope it hurt.’”… Tye McGinn will start the game on the wing with Sean Couturier and Matt Read. He is one of only a few Phantoms having a good season in the AHL. McGinn scored his 20th goal over the weekend…. Look for Raffl and Zac Rinaldo to also see time on the checking line in place of McGinn… I spent time chatting with Los Angeles Kings assistant coach and former Flyers bench boss John Stevens. He’s loving life in Los Angeles and is looking forward to cheering on both of his sons on the same collegiate hockey team beginning next season. His eldest son John Jr. was a freshman at Northeastern University this season. His younger son Nolan will join his brother in Boston next Fall.
To contact Anthony SanFilippo, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @InsideTheFlyers