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.

Flyers' poor division record biggest factor in being out of playoff picture

Flyers' poor division record biggest factor in being out of playoff picture

PITTSBURGH -- There's a bit of tragic irony to how the Flyers' season will end over the next two-plus weeks.
 
They have seven games left on the schedule. Six of them are teams residing in the Metro Division. Tuesday's opponent, Ottawa, is the lone exception.
 
There are so many reasons why the Flyers are scrambling now, clinging to the desperate belief they can still make the playoffs -- mathematically, they're alive -- against all rational thought.
 
They're six points behind Boston for the second wild-card spot, but they still have to hurdle Carolina, Tampa Bay and the Islanders just to get to Boston.
 
Yet one major reason for the Flyers' dilemma seems pretty obvious: They've been simply awful in head-to-head play against their own division.
 
The Flyers have a winning record against both divisions in the Western Conference.
 
That's not the case, however, in the East where the Metro Division is the only division with three teams over 100 points and where the Flyers have failed miserably to challenge from within.
 
Sunday's 6-2 rout of the Penguins in Pittsburgh left the Flyers with a poor 9-13-2 record against the Metro. It's the only division they have a losing record against.
 
Last season, Dave Hakstol's group finished 14-10-6 against their own division. That was a critical factor in enabling the Flyers to make the playoffs.
 
"We know where we are in the standings and it's not going to be easy to make the playoffs," Jakub Voracek said. "We all know that. We have to work off results of the other teams and try to play relaxed and loose."
 
Against the Eastern Conference overall, the Flyers are close to .500 (21-22-4) yet realize they should be better.
 
These two records represent a very large reason why the Flyers are sitting on the outside looking in as the playoffs near.
 
Right now, at least four clubs from the Metro -- half the division -- will make the playoffs. That says a lot about why games within your section are so pivotal at season's end.
 
"The numbers don't lie," Hakstol admitted on Sunday. "It's a tough road every single night. You've got to do a good job within your division, within your conference.
 
"We've played a lot of tight, hard games. The reality is, we're a number of points out of the playoffs and those points within your division are very valuable."
 
It's something the Flyers have to greatly improve upon next season if they want to be sitting in a playoff spot a month before the season ends instead of playing catch-up when the odds are hopelessly against them.
 
Pens killers
Every team in the NHL has a couple players who have fairly impressive career numbers against other teams.
 
Voracek averages better than a point against the Penguins. His goal Sunday gave him 17 goals and 34 points in 32 career games against Pittsburgh.
 
Voracek admitted after the game he's not sure why.
 
Claude Giroux also has excellent numbers against the Pens -- his two assists in the win left the Flyers' captain with 41 points (14 goals) in 40 career games vs. Pittsburgh.
 
Shayne Gostisbehere has been around a fraction as long as either Giroux or Voracek -- eight career games vs. the Pens -- yet has two goals and nine points in those games.
 
Brayden Schenn doesn't average a point a game against the Pens, but he's close. His assist on Sunday left the winger/center with 20 points (8 goals) in 26 games.
 
The only Flyer who has solid numbers against Pittsburgh and didn't make Sunday's score sheet was Wayne Simmonds. He has 23 points in 28 games. 

Dave Hakstol: Travis Konecny on 4th line 'makes sense in a lot of respects'

Dave Hakstol: Travis Konecny on 4th line 'makes sense in a lot of respects'

PITTSBURGH -- The curious line juggling of Travis Konecny continued Sunday night.

Flyers coach Dave Hakstol again started Konecny on Pierre-Edouard Bellemare's fourth line with Chris VandeVelde, but just as he did in Columbus, Hakstol moved the rookie around.

This was Konecny's third straight game off Valtteri Filppula's unit with Jakub Voracek at the start. The obvious message to Konecny seems to be: Get yourself into a more defensive-minded role early and then let the offense come to you.

Konecny has made some defensive strides.

"It makes sense in a lot of respects," Hakstol said of the move to Bellemare's unit. "He's playing with two players with a lot of structure. He excels in that type of setting.

"If you look at [Saturday], he can bounce around the lineup with different lines and we used him that way. He didn't just play with his two linemates. He moved around a little bit. He's very effective in that role when we're able to get him out there. He gives us a good boost, a good push."

Against Columbus on Saturday, Konecny played on two units with Sean Couturier -- one featuring Jordan Weal and the other, Dale Weise. He also played a few shifts with Filppula and Wayne Simmonds.

The same thing happened Sunday in the Flyers' 6-2 rout of the Penguins (see game story). Konecny finished with an assist and plus-1 in just 8:02. He is one of the very, very few Flyers who is an even. Most are minus.

Konecny, who just turned 20, and Weal, 24, gave the Flyers a lift on Sunday. Weal had a goal and an assist in 13:06.

"No matter who it is contributing, everyone is excited for everybody," Konecny said. "A lot of guys put up some numbers tonight and contributed. It was a good team effort. That's what we want to see."
 
The Flyers were so relaxed it makes you wonder if the pressure of trying to make the playoffs is gone because their odds are so stacked against them.
 
"We’re at that point where you just need to win and just show up," Konecny said. "There's nerves in the back of your mind. We're pretty loose and trying to enjoy it as much as we can going through a stressful time.
 
"We've handled it well. We played a good team, we knew they would push but we pushed harder."
 
Konecny said he's not fazed by the different line combinations he's a part of, often in the same period.
 
"It's not too bad," he said. "I kind of expected it going into a game. I know when I am playing with Belly and Vandy that throughout the game, there's going to be times like penalty kills come up and he'll fill me in with another line.
 
"At the start of the third [tonight], I filled in another line. I know it's going to come. I just expect it. I've played with pretty much everybody on the team. I'm comfortable out there."
 
Loose pucks
The six goals on the road against Pittsburgh last happened on Feb. 20, 2013, when the Flyers won, 6-5. ... Sunday was the Flyers' largest margin of victory in Pittsburgh since March 31, 2003, when they beat the Penguins, 6-1, at Mellon Arena. ... Weal picked up the second two-point game of his career -- both of which have taken place this month. ... Weise has three goals in his last seven games. ... Claude Giroux had two assists, and now has two goals and eight assists for 10 points in 13 games this month.