Flyers-Kings: 5 things you need to know

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Flyers-Kings: 5 things you need to know

The Flyers (26-23-6) continue their California trip today against the Kings (30-20-6).

Puck drop is set for 4 p.m. at Staples Center (CSN).

Here are five things you need to know:

1. Drier Island?
We know all about it, so going in depth is redundant.

Bottom line: The Flyers' decision to trade Mike Richards and Jeff Carter in order to sign Ilya Bryzgalov has proven to be the worst decision this franchise has ever made.

On Saturday, Richards and Carter will face the Flyers as teammates for the first time since being traded.

It will be the first time Carter has faced his former team, and the second time for Richards.

Carter leads the Kings with 20 goals, though he's in the midst of a five-game goalless drought. He has 67 goals total since being traded from the Flyers.

Like Carter, Richards is in the middle of a goalless drought. His is seven games, and Richie hasn't had a point in five games.

On the season, Richards has seven goals and 35 points. But anyone with any hockey knowledge knows there is more than the stat sheet when evaluating a hockey player.

Richards was never a goal scorer, or a prolific point-getter. He's above average offensively, but one of the top two-way players in the game. What he brings is invaluable.

Say what you want about the trade, the Flyers still haven't replaced Carter's goal scoring and they still miss Richards' leadership.

2. Real D please stand up
This game will tell you exactly how bad the Flyers' defense actually is, as the Kings enter today's contest 29th in the NHL in scoring.

Only the Sabres score fewer goals than the Kings and they have 15 fewer wins than L.A.

Meanwhile, the Flyers have allowed 23 goals in their last six games. While some of that can be pinned on Steve Mason, the defense has been brutal.

Whether it's missing assignments, turning the puck over or being caught flatfooted, the defense has been exposed badly.

With trade freeze looming at the Olympic break and the trade deadline only days after the NHL resumes, today's game will serve as a good test for GM Paul Holmgren to judge his roster.

3. G-lifornia dreamin'
In five career games, Claude Giroux has no goals against the Kings.

But today might be the day that snaps, as Giroux has been racking up points recently.

The Flyers' captain has six points in his last five games and has 16 goals this season. Giroux finished January with 13 points in 15 games.

Playing against Carter, who some believe took Giroux's spot on Team Canada, will provide some extra motivation for the 26-year-old.

4. Both struggling
Today's matchup features two teams struggling to win games.

The Flyers are 1-4-1 in their last six games. They lost 5-3 to Anaheim on Thursday and have allowed 23 goals in the five losses. Their only win was a 5-0 shutout over a depleted Detroit team.

Los Angeles is 1-6-1 in its last eight games. The Kings have just three goals in their last five games and have been shut out twice.

5. This and that

• Vinny Lecavalier has three goals in his last 22 games and hasn't had an even-strength goal since Jan. 14.

• The Flyers have a power-play goal in five straight games. It's the second time this year they have had a PP goal in at least five consecutive games.

• The Flyers are 6-1-1 all-time at Staples Center.

• Jonathan Quick is 1-5-1 in his last seven games with a 2.14 goals-against average.

• The Kings and Flyers are tied as the ninth-best penalty-kill unit in the NHL (83.6 percent).

• Former Flyer Justin Williams has played 186 consecutive games, the longest on the Kings.

Ron Hextall, Flyers know what they have in Nolan Patrick

Ron Hextall, Flyers know what they have in Nolan Patrick

CHICAGO — Ron Hextall had no idea which way New Jersey Devils general manager Ray Shero was leaning.

Would Shero take Nolan Patrick or Nico Hischier with his No. 1 pick?

"I asked Ray 10 minutes before he picked and he wouldn't tell me," Hextall said. "I give him credit. That is what he should have done … I didn't have an expectation one way or the other."

Shero wanted a dynamic player to put bodies in the stands at Prudential Center. He chose Hischier.

That made it easy for Hextall at No. 2 to select Patrick (see story).

If rumors were true that Shero was scared off by Patrick's several injuries this past season at Brandon, well, the Flyers weren't.

"What I believe, we gather a lot of information," Hextall said. "There's some stuff out there you want to prove wrong and we did. We're comfortable with the injury part of it. He is a really good young man."

Patrick is a two-way player and a natural center. The Flyers have seven centers right now (see story), including Patrick, who is expected to play now. 

Hextall said he doesn't envision switching Patrick to the wing.

"I would rather have too many centers rather than five wingers on each side and no one to go in the middle," Hextall said.

Interesting that German Rubtsov, last year's top pick for the Flyers, has already been converted to a left winger since coming to North America to play junior.

Will Patrick be a No. 1 center as scouts project?

"Nolan has to answer that," Hextall said. "We see a kid with a big body, extremely high hockey sense, really good skill set. You get drafted today? The work starts now and Nolan has to put the work in.

"This is another level … this is the National Hockey League. In September, he comes to camp. He needs a big summer."

Ron Hextall on Flyers' logjam of centers: 'Someone has to play the wing'

Ron Hextall on Flyers' logjam of centers: 'Someone has to play the wing'

CHICAGO – The Flyers already have a familiar problem coming out of this NHL draft and heading training camp next fall: they’re too deep at center.
 
Friday night, they added three centers and traded another.
 
Brayden Schenn was sent to St. Louis for the Blues’ 27th pick in the first round, plus a conditional 2018 first-round pick and veteran utility center Jori Lehtera (see story).
 
General manager Ron Hextall wanted to trade back into the first round late and he did so by tabbing Morgan Frost at No. 27 with that Blues’ pick.
 
NHL Central Scouting had Frost ranked 31st among North American skaters. He is a 6-0, 170-pound forward from Aurora, Ontario.
 
He has raw speed and skill, but scouts say other parts of his game will need time to fill out. Frost had 20 goals and 62 points for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the OHL this past season.
 
Friday’s other first-round pick, Nolan Patrick, is a natural centerman. Patrick is expected to play in the NHL this season. So right now, the Flyers’ centers are Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, Valtteri Filppula, Mike Vecchione, plus Patrick and now Lehtera.
 
Lehtera had 30 goals and 100 points in 218 games with the Blues. He was both a first- and second-line center for the Blues this past season despite weak numbers — seven goals and 22 points in 64 games.
 
He is a decent playmaker and two-way player, who has centered Alex Steen and Vladimir Tarasenko.
 
“He is utility guy with a well-rounded game and can play in the middle,” Hextall said. “We like the player. Gives coach more options.”
 
Best option: Lehtera can move to left wing if needed.
 
“Someone has to play the wing,” Hextall said. “He can play the wing. Our scouts have seen him play the wing, but he plays center most games. I am assuming he prefers center like most of them. Someone has to play wing.”
 
Schenn had improved every year he was with the Flyers, but too much of his scoring is on the power play and not five-on-five. He had 109 goals and 246 points in 424 career games for the Flyers.
 
This deal seems strange unless you consider the Flyers got another first-round pick (Frost) and a top-10 protected, conditional first-rounder next year. The Blues have the option to defer the 2018 first-rounder to 2019 but if they do so, the Flyers will also receive the Blues' 2020 third-round pick.
 
“It was a combination,” Hextall said of the advantages’ from the Flyers side. “It was one of those [trades] that came out of nowhere. Not like we were shopping Brayden.
 
“This deal came along and we really like the draft next year. We like the late pick this year and Jori. It made sense and we got a couple more young players.”
 
Young players like Frost, whom the Flyers are excited about.
 
“Our whole staff really liked the guy,” Hextall said. “He’s an extremely intelligent player, his No. 1 asset. Really smart. Reads the ice well. He has a very deft touch moving the puck.
 
“Good two-way player who showed up good in the testing. We believe he is a kid with a lot of upside. Good speed, but he dissects the game better than most players.”
 
Frost’s father Andy was the longtime former Toronto Maple Leafs PA announcer.
 
“I talked to them a couple times,” Frost said. “I’d say I had a bit of a gut feeling. I wasn’t too sure, but they took me and I’m super happy about it.
 
“I think first and foremost I’m a playmaker. I think I’m a high-skilled player that likes to use his vision and hockey sense to create plays. I’m working on becoming more of a two-way forward. That’s more of the player I want to become.”