The LA Kings welcome the Philadelphia Flyers to town on Saturday. These two teams haven’t met since January 2020, when the Flyers won a convincing 4-1 contest behind Travis Konecny’s two goal-effort.
On Friday, Kings head coach Todd McLellan confirmed that Jonathan Quick would get the nod again on Saturday, giving more time for Cal Petersen.
Tale of the Tape
LAK: 16.5% (25th)
PHI: 15.9% (26th)
LAK: 75.3% (28th)
PHI: 81.8% (11th)
LAK: 53.8% (6th)
PHI: 54.0% (5th)
Goals per game:
LAK: 2.59 (27th)
PHI: 2.65 (25th)
Goals against per game:
LAK: 2.66 (9th)
PHI: 3.13 (21st)
LAK: Anze Kopitar – 9 goals, 19 assists, 28 points
PHI: Claude Giroux – 11 goals, 16 assists, 27 points
Here are three things to keep an eye on tonight:
1. Where are my finishers at?
Shot volume has never been the problem for the LA Kings. In fact, they have the opposite of a problem. Todd McLellan‘s group is fifth in the NHL, averaging 34.5 shots forced per game. However, they are 27th in the league with a 2.59 goals per game average.
The Kings have averaged just 2.33 goals over their last nine games, carrying a surprising 5-3-1 record during that stretch. However, they cannot continue to rely on Jonathan Quick pitching a shutout every night. On Thursday, the Canucks evened the score at one goal apiece in the third period, with the LA Kings ultimately prevailing in the shootout.
The point being – the Kings need to find some consistent offense and find it fast.
They need more from Viktor Arvidsson, I think it’s fair to say that at this stage of this season. He is a former 30-goal scorer in this league, but he has six goals in 25 games played. Diving deeper, the 28-year-old has only two goals over his last 12 games.
Now, he did have the game-winner in the shootout on Thursday, let’s see if that gets him going.
— LA Royalty (@LARoyalty1967) December 31, 2021
Similarly, Anze Kopitar has gone cold after his red-hot start to the year, one that saw him score seven goals during the first nine games. Since then, the 34-year-old has just two goals over his last 23 games.
The Kings have been getting by, and I say that loosely, with the play of their fourth line. The hard work of Blake Lizotte to force a turnover in the Canucks D zone set up Christian Wolanin‘s blast from the blue line and Brendan Lemieux‘s re-direct to give the Kings the early advantage. Before the pause, Lizotte had goals in consecutive games against the Panthers and Capitals.
To wrap this one up – the LA Kings need some other players to start lighting the lamp.
2. Woeful powerplay units
This matchup features two of the worst powerplay units in the National Hockey League. The Kings come into this one with a 16.5% conversion rate on the man advantage, good for 25th in the league. Drew Doughty‘s blast in the Kings’ OT loss against Tampa is the only powerplay goal in the team’s last 25 opportunities.
It wouldn’t hurt to get a look at some other players on the powerplay units – a shakeup is needed at this point.
Similarly, the Flyers are converting at just a 15.9% rate on the man advantage. However, they’ve picked it up recently, lighting the lamp on 4 of their last 16 powerplay chances.
James van Riemsdyk leads all skaters with four goals on the man advantage, which is certainly nothing to write home about.
This game could ultimately come down to which team can draw penalties and take advantage.
3. More time for Alex Turcotte’s line
After getting his feet wet in his NHL debut, Alex Turcotte looked more comfortable in his second game against the Canucks on Thursday. We saw a little bit of everything that rounds out his game: winning puck battles down low, forcing turnovers in the LA Kings attacking zone, and his net presence was the area of his game that stood out the most.
He’s always been very good at that and for him to establish his position in front of the goal crease this early into his NHL development demonstrates his high-hockey IQ. So much that he nearly potted his first NHL goal:
— Ryan Sikes (@ryan_sikes10) December 31, 2021
“He started to give himself permission to belong here, and what I mean by that is, sometimes you’ve got to play a few games and then you realize, this is for me.” Todd McLellan said Turcotte, via LA Kings Insider. “You play less apprehensive, less afraid of making a mistake. I thought, physically, he was more impressive in game two, came very close to scoring his first goal, was fine in the [faceoff] circle. He’s exactly what we thought he would be and he’s just going to get better as time goes on.”
I was curious to see what the Kings would do when Phillip Danault came back, especially with Rasmus Kupari back in the mix from a non-COVID illness. Kupari was moved to the wing in favor of Turcotte sliding into third-line center duties, and that line was buzzing all night against Vancouver.
Per Natural Stat Trick, Turcotte’s line had a 66.7 CF% and 75.9 xGF%, meaning they were controlling the puck and creating scoring chances. The former 2019 fifth overall pick logged just 9:50 TOI, and his line didn’t take the ice much in the third period in a tied game. However, I’d like to see his line get an uptick in time-on-ice against the Flyers to see if they can generate and convert on more chances.
The Kings and Flyers will get underway from Crypto.com Arena at 7:30 PM PT.