Richards, Carter excited to face Flyers together

Richards, Carter excited to face Flyers together

Can Flyers take advantage of slumping Kings?

January 31, 2014, 6:00 pm
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Mike Richards, who's already faced the Flyers, and Jeff Carter will play the Flyers for the first time together Saturday afternoon in L.A. (USA Today Images)

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Talk to any NHL player who’s been around a while and they will tell you that winning a Stanley Cup changes you.

Changes how you see the game. How you view your career. How you see yourself among your peers. 

Mike Richards says it made him more determined.

“You almost have more of a drive to win another one,” Richards, the ex-Flyer who won a Cup with the L.A. Kings in 2012, said.

“How much fun it is. The day with the Cup is pretty special. I had almost two days with it [at his home in Kenora, Ont.]. 

“It’s something you want to have happen again. You don’t know how it feels until you actually go through it and the excitement of winning with the team and to do it with Jeff [Carter] was obviously special, too.

“You set your career out and plan and then get the opportunity here -- obviously not the city we envisioned, but everything happens for a reason. You get that hunger more to win it again.”

They thought they’d win in Philly, but both were traded on the Thursday prior to the 2011 NHL draft.

Winning the Cup, Carter said, made him reflect on how close he and Richards came in 2010 with the Flyers during the Stanley Cup final against Chicago.

“You know what it takes to win,” Carter said. “We came close in Philly. Then going through it here, you see what it takes to win and how hard it is. You kind of look back on the Chicago series and think about some stuff. It’s not an easy thing to do.”

The Flyers and Kings will meet Saturday at Staples Center. It’s been decades since the two played each other during the afternoon in California. This is part of an NHL/NBA doubleheader with the Clippers playing Saturday night.

It will be the Carter’s first appearance against the Flyers since being traded, and the first time both him and Richards face their former team as L.A. Kings.

When Richards played the Flyers in Philadelphia during the 2011-12 season, Carter was still in Columbus.

“Yeah, I played but for him it might be different,” Richards said. “It was three years ago. It’s been a while.”

There are only five players left from the 2010-11 Flyers roster that Carter and Richards played on -- Braydon Coburn, Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell, Kimmo Timonen and Andrej Meszaros. Ray Emery was on the 2009-10 roster with Richards and Carter.

“We were looking at the roster this morning and I think it’s only four ... five guys on that team,” Richards said. “It’s quite the turnover on that team just 2½ years [later].”

Carter said it will be fun to finally play against the Flyers.

“A lot of good memories and people there,” he said. “It’s been a while. Obviously, I looked at it when the schedule came out, but once you get out there, it’s just another game. A big game for us. We’ve been throwing away some points. We need to get a win.”

Darryl Sutter’s Kings have lost seven of their last eight games. This will be only the second home game at Staples Center -- not including an outdoor game at Dodger Stadium -- in the last 17 days for the Kings.

In some ways, Richards said, this current stretch of losses seems to resemble what the Kings went through in 2011-12 under Terry Murray and then Sutter before coming out of it, eking into the playoffs as the No. 8 seed in the West on their unexpected Cup run.

“It’s all the same guys [now], so everyone’s been through it before,” said Richards, who has seven goals this season. “We’ve gone through some spells, probably not this long. We’ve had some ups and downs. There is no consistency with us right now.

“Everyone has good and bad games. We have it at different times when half the team is not on some nights and the other half the next night. You have to get everybody on the same page and playing well together.

“We know we’re capable of doing it. We have the same team we’ve had success with. Just a matter of putting everything together.”

Carter said it’s frustrating because the team is pretty even keel.

“We don’t give up a lot, but we haven’t been getting a lot lately,” he said. “I wish I could kind of pinpoint one reason. We’re getting 30, 40, 50 shots a game and coming up with nothing. At the end of the day, it all comes down to bearing down on our chances.

“We’ve had a lot of chances that should have been in the net. The way we play, one of two goals, a lot of nights, gives us a chance to win. We haven’t even been getting that.”

The Kings lost, 4-1, to Pittsburgh Thursday night. They remain third in the Pacific Division with 66 points and sixth overall in the West.

Their saving grace? The Kings’ goaltending is No. 1 in the NHL with Jonathan Quick owning a 2.13 goals-against average and .914 save percentage.