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Flyers at Kings preview

Los Angeles looking for more offense under new coach Stevens; Philadelphia goes for 2-0-0 start

by Dan Greenspan / NHL.com Correspondent

FLYERS (1-0-0) at KINGS (0-0-0)

10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, NHL.TV

 

The Game

The Los Angeles Kings will have a new coach and a new look when they open the regular season against the Philadelphia Flyers at Staples Center on Thursday. The Kings will have eight players who weren't in the lineup on opening night a year ago, including three (forward Alex Iafallo and defensemen Oscar Fantenberg and Kurtis MacDermid) making his NHL debut.

Coach John Stevens, who took over after Darryl Sutter was fired April 10, believes that a lack of familiarity with those new faces could be beneficial for the Kings.

"I think sometimes the element of surprise creates a little bit more opportunity," Stevens said. "You might not exactly know what to expect from them and that can be an advantage to the offensive player."

Stevens' biggest task is to improve an offense that finished 25th in the NHL last season (2.43 goals per game). Defenseman Drew Doughty is excited to play in a more aggressive system.

"Our forwards are actually looking for that D-man basically every single time they are going up the ice," said Doughty, who had 44 points (12 goals, 32 assists) in 2016-17. "We're going to have opportunities to score, opportunities to get on the rush and create offensively."

The Flyers opened their season with a 5-3 win at the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday. Forward Wayne Simmonds scored three goals for the first hat trick on opening night in Flyers history. His second goal was the game-winner and the 400th point of his NHL career.

Simmonds scored two of the Flyers' three power-play goals against the Sharks. Philadelphia was 3-for-5 with the man-advantage after scoring five power-play goals in the preseason.

The Flyers had five rookies on their opening night roster for the first time since the 1992-93 season, though defensemen Travis Sanheim and Samuel Morin were scratched.

 

Players to watch

Flyers center Nolan Patrick made his NHL debut against the Sharks. He won five of nine face-offs and had three shots on goal in 13:30 of ice time.

Goaltender Jonathan Quick will start for the Kings. He sustained a groin injury in the Kings' season opener last year and was limited to 17 games, going 8-5-2 with a 2.26 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage.

 

They said it

"I think we got a lot more speed, actually. If you watched the game, we just kept skating and skating and skating. It was because of our legs that we came up with the two points." -- Simmonds on what the Flyers' rookies contributed to the win against the Sharks

"He's got a lot of quickness and a dynamic element to his game. Whatever line we put him with seemed to thrive." - Stevens on what Iafallo brings to the lineup

 
Flyers projected lineup

Claude Giroux -- Sean Couturier -- Jakub Voracek

Jordan Weal -- Nolan Patrick -- Wayne Simmonds

Dale Weise -- Valtteri Filppula -- Travis Konecny

Taylor Leier -- Scott Laughton -- Michael Raffl

Ivan Provorov -- Andrew MacDonald

Radko Gudas -- Brandon Manning

Shayne Gostisbehere -- Robert Hagg

Michal Neuvirth

Brian Elliott

Scratched: Travis Sanheim, Samuel Morin, Taylor Leier

 
Kings projected lineup

Alex Iafallo -- Anze Kopitar -- Dustin Brown

Tanner Pearson -- Jeff Carter -- Tyler Toffoli

Michael Cammalleri -- Adrian Kempe -- Jonny Brodzinski

Kyle Clifford -- Nick Shore -- Trevor Lewis

Derek Forbort -- Drew Doughty

Jake Muzzin -- Christian Folin

Kurtis MacDermid -- Oscar Fantenberg

Jonathan Quick

Darcy Kuemper

Scratched: Andy Andreoff, Nic Dowd, Paul LaDue

Injured: Alec Martinez (lower body)

 

Status report

Neuvirth is scheduled to start after Elliott made 32 saves against the Sharks. … Martinez is on injured reserve after being injured in practice earlier this week. He had an NHL career-high 39 points (nine goals, 30 assists) last season and played in all 82 games for the first time in his career. The Kings recalled LaDue from Ontario of the American Hockey League to replace him.

 
Stat pack

The Flyers were 9-6-3 in the second of back-to-back games last season. … The Kings are 1-4-0 in their past five openers and have been outscored 18-7.

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