Richards, Carter excited to face Flyers together

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Richards, Carter excited to face Flyers together

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.

Best of NHL: Capitals blow lead, rebound for OT win over Bruins

Best of NHL: Capitals blow lead, rebound for OT win over Bruins

WASHINGTON -- Nicklas Backstrom scored 1:36 into overtime, helping the Washington Capitals beat the Boston Bruins 4-3 after blowing a three-goal lead Wednesday night.

Justin Williams scored twice and Daniel Winnik also had a goal to put Washington ahead 3-0 about six minutes into the second period.

After Winnik's tally, Washington went over 26 minutes without a shot on goal. Boston dominated the final five minutes of the second period, when Dominic Moore and David Pastrnak beat goaltender Braden Holtby. Colin Miller's power-play score 8:19 into third tied it at 3.

Boston arrived in Washington 4-0-1 over its last five games with three wins in a row, including a 4-3 overtime triumph against Florida on Monday night.

Evgeny Kuznetsov had two assists for the Capitals and Alex Ovechkin got his first point since Nov. 26.

Boston outshot Washington 34-20. The Capitals have won two straight following a three-game losing skid (see full recap).

Staal scores on Leafs again in Wild win
TORONTO -- Eric Staal scored yet another goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs, lifting the Minnesota Wild to a 3-2 victory on Wednesday night.

Staal has 47 points in 43 career games against Toronto, and three of his six goals this season have come against the Leafs.

Jason Zucker and Chris Stewart also scored for the Wild, who wrapped a five-game trip 2-1-2.

Ben Smith and Tyler Bozak had goals for the Maple Leafs, who dropped to 8-4-0 at Air Canada Centre.

Devan Dubnyk made 35 saves for Minnesota and Frederik Andersen stopped 17 shots for Toronto (see full recap).

Connor McDavid, Oilers' speed, skill present Flyers with 'real good challenge'

Connor McDavid, Oilers' speed, skill present Flyers with 'real good challenge'

VOORHEES, N.J. — They are among the very best – and highest scoring — lines in the NHL this season.
 
And they’re gunning for the Flyers on Thursday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
 
Connor McDavid’s unit with Milan Lucic and Leon Draisaitl have a combined 30 goals and 78 points worth of offense. 
 
Among them, the lightning quick McDavid leads the NHL with 36 points. All 11 of his goals are even strength. 
 
He doesn’t have a single power-play goal, but is tied for the league lead with several players, including Claude Giroux, with 10 power-play assists.
 
You can expect to see Pierre-Edouard Bellemare’s unit with Chris VandeVelde and Dale Weise against this line with defenseman Ivan Provorov drawing McDavid for the first time this season.
 
“Speed and skill that Edmonton has up front presents a real good challenge for our team,” Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said. “We have to be better with the puck tomorrow. 
 
“We didn’t do enough when we had the puck. Gave it up a little too easily and because of that, you end up playing defense a lot of the night and that’s what happened last night to us.”
 
Bellemare, who had his share of forward battles with Jaromir Jagr in Tuesday, likes to analyze the matchups against McDavid.
 
“He’s one of the best players in the world,” Bellemare said of the 19-year-old McDavid. “It’s tough not to be excited when playing against a guy who plays like this. He competes every second he is on the ice. That line is an impressive line.”
 
The Flyers better have some bad, choppy ice to slow McDavid down. Edmonton has some of the fastest ice in the league and the Oilers use it to their full advantage. 
 
Asked of McDavid’s tendencies, Bellemare said, “Is that a tendency? To be super fast?”
 
Yes it is. 
 
“When you play against them, he is a kid who is freaky fast right from the start,” Bellemare said. “Against that line, you saw [against Buffalo] that everyone knows how fast he is and he still had two breakaways.”
 
Which means the Flyers need to watch their turnovers, especially in the neutral zone where McDavid can go 60 feet in a flash.
 
“Even blue line to the top of the circle, you can’t turn the puck over,” Bellemare said. “Or he’s gone. This is a tendency we have to be careful of. All of the ice, you can’t give him any time or space. The less time you give him, the bigger chance you have to frustrate a player like this.”
 
Bellemare did some talking with Jagr a couple times in Tuesday’s game. So did Provorov. Bellemare says it helps to add psychology to the mix.
 
“You try to be in his face,” Bellemare said. “If you can win that battle against that line and our first line can win the battle against their fourth line, then it’s a win-win situation. I was trying to be in [Jagr’s] face.”
 
Jagr actually got angrier at Provorov and it showed with his hooking calls. But when Bellemare and Jagr went into the corner, Jagr got testy with his stick there as well.
 
“He was trying to give it to me a little harder,” Bellemare said. “Exactly what I need. If he is less focused on the puck, then maybe I have a chance to win that puck.”
 
McDavid’s focus will be solely on the puck.
 
“McDavid has been playing some pretty good hockey,” Flyers captain Claude Giroux said. “They’re a high-tempo team. A smart team. We’ve got to be ready.”
 
Loose pucks
Boyd Gordon came off long term injured reserve onto the active roster to give the Flyers 13 forwards. In doing that, Matt Read (oblique pull) went on injured reserve. … Defenseman Michael Del Zotto will sit against the Oilers while Radko Gudas returns from an illness. Gudas will be paired with Mark Streit, as Ivan Provorov remains with Andrew MacDonald for now. … Steve Mason, who did not practice Wednesday, will start in goal.