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Kings' Carter, Richards return to Philadelphia

by Adam Kimelman

KINGS (40-25-6) at FLYERS (38-25-7)


Last 10: Los Angeles 7-3-0; Philadelphia 8-1-1

Season series: It's the second and final regular-season game between the Philadelphia Flyers and Los Angeles Kings. On Feb. 1, Steve Mason stopped all 35 shots he faced and former King Wayne Simmonds had a goal and an assist in a 2-0 Flyers victory at Staples Center.

Big story: The Flyers' past and present will collide at Wells Fargo Center. Former Philadelphia cornerstones Mike Richards and Jeff Carter return to town. It will be the second game in Philadelphia for Richards, but the first for Carter. The duo was traded on the same day in June 2011, Richards to the Kings for Simmonds and Brayden Schenn, Carter to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Jakub Voracek and the draft pick that became Sean Couturier. Later in the 2011-12 season, the Blue Jackets traded Carter to the Kings.

Carter and Richards were key parts of the Flyers' return to prominence following their last-place finish in 2006-07. They helped Philadelphia reach the 2008 Eastern Conference Final and 2010 Stanley Cup Final, and then helped the Kings win the 2012 Stanley Cup, with Carter scoring the Cup-clinching goal in Game 6 against the New Jersey Devils.

The Flyers have been happy with their side of the trades. Simmonds is tied for the team lead with 24 goals and has a career-best 54 points; Voracek is third with 52 points; Schenn has 18 goals and 40 points; and Couturier has developed into a top shut-down center.

Team scope:

Kings: Los Angeles coach Darryl Sutter is hoping less can be more for Richards.

Richards scored his fourth goal in 11 games since the Olympic break Saturday against the Florida Panthers, but he has 10 in 71 games, putting him on pace for 11, the fewest he's had since his second season.

Sutter has reduced Richards' ice time since the break, playing him fewer than 16 minutes seven times since play resumed; he played less than 16 minutes 15 times in 60 games before the break.

"We're trying to get some energy in his game," Sutter told the team's website. "So if that means fewer minutes and a higher pace to his game, then so be it. You know what? In that age group of our guys, they just want to win. It's not about the individual stuff at all. ... You know, those guys just want to win. That's sort of what we do."

Flyers: It's been more than two years since they traded him to the Flyers, but Simmonds still gets excited when he sees the Los Angeles Kings come up on the schedule.

This will be Simmonds' third game against his former team, and second this season. But he still has a number of friends on the Kings -- he and defenseman Drew Doughty were roommates -- so the excitement remains.

"That last game there when I played in L.A., that was my first game back in L.A.," Simmonds said. "It was nice to go back there and play, but obviously it's going to be a little bit different. They're coming to our building this time. It's nice to play against your old team."

It doesn't hurt that the Kings remain among the elite teams in the League, so the game also serves as another measuring stick for the Flyers. They have moved into second place in the Metropolitan Division by winning five in a row against some of the best teams in the League, including the Pittsburgh Penguins, the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks and League-leading St. Louis Blues.

"I think we've just got to continue to have the same focus that we've had ... the last five games," Simmonds said. "Just keep going ahead, keep trying to create separation [in the Stanley Cup Playoff race], keep getting those two points every night."

Who's hot: Kings goalie Jonathan Quick has won two straight games, including a 24-save shutout Saturday of the Florida Panthers that moved him past Rogatien Vachon for his team-record 172nd victory. … Flyers captain Claude Giroux has points in six straight games, totaling one goal and nine assists. In 11 games since the Olympic break he has at least two points in six of them.

Injury report: Kings captain Dustin Brown, who sustained an upper-body injury Saturday against the Florida Panthers, will play Monday. ... Flyers forward Steve Downie (upper body) is out. 


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