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Richards returns to Philly as Kings face Flyers

by Adam Kimelman
KINGS (1-1-1) at FLYERS (3-0-0)


Season series:
This is the only meeting between the teams this season. They split two games last season, with the road team winning each time. On Feb. 13, Drew Doughty scored the game's only goal 17 seconds into the second period and Jonathan Quick stopped all 40 shots in a 1-0 Kings win in Philadelphia.

Big Story: It's the first game back in Philadelphia for former Flyers captain Mike Richards, traded to the Kings in June. It was an emotional departure for Richards, a 2003 first-round pick by the club who was three seasons into a 12-year contract and had been captain since the start of the 2008-09 season.

Team Scope:

Kings: Richards said he's trying to look at this game as just another stop on the Kings' season-opening road trip, but it's certain to be an emotional night for him.

"It sounds cliché, but I try not to think about it as much as possible," Richards told the Philadelphia Daily News. "I've tried not to think about it."

Simon Gagne understands exactly what Richards is feeling. Gagne was a Flyer for the first 10 seasons of his career, but was traded to Tampa Bay last season. He said it was tough walking back into the Wells Fargo Center as a visiting player for the first time.

"It is not going to be easy for Mike," Gagne told the Daily News. "The first time, it's almost (like) you are going back home. Last year, it took a while to realize I wasn't with the Flyers and not wearing the jersey.

"It was one of the toughest days in my career as a player."

James van Riemsdyk generally allows his game to do all his talking. You won't see him yapping on the ice or on the bench during games, and rarely does he talk to a referee or linesman.

So it was a bit strange to see the 22-year-old forward sent to the penalty box for unsportsmanlike conduct during the third period of Wednesday's game against the Vancouver Canucks.

Van Riemsdyk had his stick hooked driving to the net and thought he should have drawn a penalty. When none was called, he expressed his displeasure. The referee then whistled a penalty -- on van Riemsdyk.

A sheepish van Riemsdyk explained himself after the game, saying it was "a little bit of a misunderstanding. I went to talk to him (the official) afterward, let him know he heard what I said the wrong way and thought I was directing something at him. It was a stupid position to put myself in, was a stupid penalty."

Who's Hot: Kings center Anze Kopitar has at least a point in all three games, and his 3 goals and 5 points rank in the top four in the League … Flyers center Claude Giroux had a goal and 2 assists Wednesday against the Canucks, and has a goal in all three games.

Injury Report:
Kings forward Colin Fraser is out while recovering from ankle surgery … Flyers center Blair Betts is out dealing with a knee injury.

Stat Pack:
The Flyers have a chance to start 4-0-0 for the first time since the 1995-96 season.

Puck Drop: Philadelphia coach Peter Laviolette knows just how important All-Star defenseman Chris Pronger is to the team's success. However, Pronger is 37 and just five months removed from back surgery. Laviolette still played him 23:41 Wednesday against the Canucks -- a number that would have been higher had he not spent two minutes in the penalty box in the third period, while the Flyers were clinging to a one-goal lead.

Laviolette gave Pronger the day off from practice Friday, but don't expect him to see less time in games -- he's played at least 22:57 in the team's three games, and is averaging a team-high 23:44.

"It's about winning hockey games," Laviolette said Wednesday. "You need to put the people on the ice to make sure you get the points. You can't tell me this game isn't as important as game No. 82. We have to win game and the players that play certain roles (will play)."

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